The UK government is making up to £13 million ($21 million) available to help UK-based businesses take advantage of opportunities in the nuclear market. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Industry Association is setting up a partnership to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) maximise their opportunities in the nuclear supply chain.
The funding, which will be made available jointly by the Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is part of a drive to grow a "robust and sustainable" UK nuclear supply chain by developing innovative products and services for the nuclear sector.
The funding competition will open on 17 March 2014, according to Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon. It will focus on key areas, including construction, manufacturing, operation, maintenance, nuclear decommissioning and waste.
In 2012, some £18 million was invested in 35 nuclear research in development projects through a partnership between TSB, NDA, DECC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Oustanding opportunities for UK nuclear supply chain
"In addition to helping us meet our energy needs and...environmental commitments, new nuclear stations will create outstanding opportunities for the British economy," Minister Fallon said, 9 December, in an address to the EDF Energy supply chain conference in London.
Up to 57% of the value of Hinkley Point C - the first UK nuclear power station to be built in almost 20 years - could be spent in the UK, according to EDF Energy, which is due to launch two new tenders worth £600 million for electrical and HVAC-related work within the next few days.
The full 16 GW of new-build capacity that is being planned for the UK could support an estimated 29,000 to 41,000 jobs across the supply chain at the peak of construction, equating to around £60 billion in total, Fallon said.
The skills and partnerships developed in the HInkley C project will also position companies to access the staggering $1.5 trillion of new-nuclear investment predicted globally by 2025.
Fallon said the government is "committed to providing the supply chain with the support needed to ensure it has the capacity and capability to take advantage of these opportunities."
In related news, the Nuclear Industry Association has announced it will set up a nuclear supply chain partnership to help maximise opportunities for SMEs in the nuclear supply chain.
The group will include nuclear power plant developers (EDF Energy, Horizon Nuclear Power, and NuGeneration), the supply chain and government. The initial focus will be on business opportunities in the UK domestic market, which will also provide a basis for export in future.
The group is expected to be modelled on PFME (Partenariat France Monde Electricite) ), a French organization which comprises 70 SMEs that are qualified suppliers of EDF for the French nuclear programme, and also provide equipment and services for nuclear plants around the world.
Minister Fallon welcomed the launch of the nuclear supply chain SME partnership."Developing strong partnerships and regular shared communications across the supply chain will be critical to the successful delivery of our nuclear programme," he said.
Hinkley Point C (Source: EDF Energy)