EDF is still waiting to commit to building the first UK EPRs. But has partner and supplier Areva invested in long-lead items for the UK anyway? Areva vice president of new-build Robert Davies said, "We have invested a lot of money in the GDA" - regulatory pre-approval process. "But we have not spent anything on the Hinkley Point project." It is also in discussions with Horizon Nuclear Power for two EPRs each at Oldbury and Wylfa, and with the NuGen consortium of GDF Suez, Iberdrola and Scottish & Southern about reactors at Sellafield.
He said that new nuclear build altogether, whether from EDF or the other two consortia, will offer opportunities to many companies. "Every UK construction firm will be involved in UK nuclear new-build. There will be winners and winners." In 2008, Areva signed up Balfour Beatty and Vinci for the UK EPR build process.
Unlike Westinghouse, which has a local sourcing policy for its new-build projects, Areva sources components globally and currently has 13 or so UK suppliers. But Davies said that its policy is still good for UK businesses.
"In 2009 we performed an audit of UK manufacturing companies to see what companies and skills there were, and how we could add to them. We have a global supply chain; it is not good enough to use suppliers for one or two projects. There is a lot of work required to get them to the right quality, and we don't want to lose them. There were 34 or 35 who, with a little more effort, could be come suppliers, and then export their products around the world. But there was also a gem of a company that we signed up in six weeks.
"We have all the suppliers we need for the contracts we have now. But if we get the volume of work, then we will engage them. The work issues were in quality, cost competitiveness and project management, but all of those companies have the basic fundamentals to fulfill the scope."