Summit strengthens civil nuclear commitments in the UK

Prime Minister David Cameron and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, are expected to agree to a cooperation deal for the advancement of civil nuclear today.

The agreement will bring Britain and France together to work alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and “strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and establish a joint framework for cooperation and exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security,” according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

In practice this means international collaboration on education and training methods, R&D and security.

Government hopes the deal with France will stabilise sector confidence in it commitment to nuclear new build projects in the UK. Predictions have been given out that the collaborative arrangement with France will help firm up commercial opportunities worth some £500m.

These opportunities are also expected to create around 1,500 UK jobs in the civil nuclear supply chain.

For supporters of civil nuclear, today’s deal signals security for the UKs energy supply and its ability to meet emission reduction targets.

The deal will also be welcome to manufacturers accredited for civil nuclear supply for which business prospects are building. Earlier this month, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first nuclear reactors to be built in the country since 1978.

The two approved reactor designs are from Westinghouse Electric Company and Areva UK.

Westinghouse has stated confidence in the UK nuclear supply chain, particularly in North Wales. A spokesperson told TM that the company has every confidence in the UK sector’s ability to provide the capability and capacity necessary to build its AP1000 reactor – both for UK use and for other civil nuclear projects in Europe.

Eight new nuclear build sites were identified by UK government in summer 2011. These are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.

Rolls-Royce is confident of winning a £400m ($632m) share in the building of the first of the planned power plants.

Today’s summit also hails discussion of Anglo-French collaboration on future defence projects including a new unmanned aircraft.