The Government of Wales (UK) on 5 February signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Sizewell C Consortium. The MOU could potentially see an investment of up to £900 million ($1.2bn) in the Welsh nuclear supply chain supporting up to 4700 jobs across Wales, if the Sizewell C nuclear power plant is given the go-ahead.
The Sizewell C Consortium includes almost 200 businesses and trade unions from the UK nuclear supply chain focused on building the next nuclear power station at Sizewell. When construction of the Hinkley Point C NPP in Somerset nears completion, this MOU sets out the opportunity for Welsh businesses to be part of the supply chain for the next build at Sizewell C.
The 12-point MOU says: “There is widespread political consensus that investment is needed to ‘level up’ places across theUnited Kingdom that may have been left behind, including those in Wales.” It notes that Wales has a strong nuclear legacy. “Hinkley Point C has revived the expertise of this supply chain, meaning Sizewell C – which will replicate Hinkley Point C – will be able to harness this supply chain and provide stable pipeline for order books and further impetus for the nuclear industry across Wales.”
It says the Consortium is committed “to exploring the possibility of transferring the Hinkley Point C supply chain in Wales over to Sizewell C, without delay or time lag (provided that UK Government policy enables this)”. The MOU “commits to pipeline UK EPR nuclear development in the UK, from Sizewell C to future projects, including Moorside and to new build in Wales should the option present itself”. This “would provide long term stability, allowing confidence for inward investment”.
The Consortium commits to maintaining “the significant investment already benefitting Wales through the Hinkley Point C construction and aims to expand the percentage of the construction spend, which will generate work worth hundreds of millions of pounds for Welsh suppliers”. Sizewell C “will continue to harness the considerable skillset of Welsh suppliers to build Sizewell C, in the process developing a pipeline of talent that can help the nuclear industry invest in future clean energy projects at Wylfa and other sites in Wales”. This will also “help grow the prospective industries of tomorrow in Wales – nuclear-generated hydrogen, Direct Air Capture and Small and Advanced Modular Reactors”.
To maximise the impact “we will explore the potential of creating a Supply Chain Hub in Wales as part of our overarching project strategy… alongside other hubs in strategic locations around the nation” that will “allow contractors to manufacture, preassemble and consolidate components critical to the Sizewell C construction process”.
The MOU says it is estimated that the nuclear industry will need 30,000 new employees in the next decade. “The Consortium will work alongside local higher and further educational institutions to develop these skills and ensure that world class talent developed in Wales is encouraged to enter its nuclear and construction industry.”
Providing the UK Government provides support for SMR and AMR technology, Sizewell C “is complementary to and will also act as a bridge to those future technologies” and will also facilitate greater use of hydrogen across the network, laying the groundwork for a thriving industry which could create thousands of jobs in Wales”.
The signatories of the MOU encouraged the UK government “to make a swift decision to develop Sizewell C”.
A joint statement on behalf of Unite Wales, GMB and Prospect unions said the MOU was “important and timely”. It added: “From Trawsfynydd through to Wylfa, the nuclear industry has a proud history in Wales. Skills, good jobs and communities have been sustained by it. New nuclear projects are needed now more than ever.”
Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “While we have recently had disappointing news about Wylfa Newydd, we remain committed to that project and the supply chain. This MOU shows how the Welsh expertise in the nuclear industry is in demand and can be used across the UK and further afield.”
In January Horizon Nuclear Power withdrew its planning application for the Wylfa Newydd project. The UK Planning Inspectorate has since released its report on the project in which the government appointed planning inspectors recommended that the project should be rejected, citing a number of expert concerns.