UK new-build doesn't have what it takes, report argues

4 August 2009

A review of the experiences of UK people in engineering and project management of the country's gas-cooled reactors argues that the essential ingredient in nuclear new build is not well sustained by UK companies.

"The dominant lesson is that to be economic and safe to operate each new project should be planned and controlled by an organization which has the engineering and managerial capacity and authority to integrate and control the design and supply of the whole project. This simple lesson is the same as stated from many capital projects, particularly the process industries."

The authors warn that this lesson “is not easily applied even by experienced customers and contractors.”

The report notes that many of the lessons from the UK’s previous nuclear programmes were not due to problems of the nuclear advances and innovations. The managerial challenges were as much the organizational and leadership problems of bringing companies together to design and supply complete power stations.

The authors are Professor Stephen Wearne, formerly Project Engineer on UK and Japanese reactor projects and now in the University’s Management of Projects research group, and Mr Raymond Bird, formerly Chief Performance Engineer, GEC/Simon Carves Atomic Energy group. They draw on the experience of nine other veterans of the nuclear consortia first formed in 1955.

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