Nuclear Pact: 'potential synergies are very significant'

Paul Boughton

Frost & Sullivan analysts Enguerran Ripert and Neha Vikash discuss the news that the UK is to sign a deal with France to strengthen co-operation in the development of civil nuclear energy.

Phasing out nuclear power was never an option for countries like the UK and France. While Germany increased the speed of its nuclear phase out following the Fukushima incident in Japan, countries like the UK and France both have large mutual interests in the nuclear sector.

The potential synergies between the two countries are very significant given the supply chain expertise across the two countries in forgings, critical and peripheral equipment and engineering expertise.

The agreement between Britain and France to work together on civil nuclear energy secures their stronger commitment towards building safer, secure next generation plants.

It also paves the ways for EDF and other utilities to secure funding, and supply chain agreements for the eight sites across the UK, earmarked for new nuclear capacity. [Page Break]

France, already building its European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) at Flammanville, also has another EPR in the pipeline at Penly. Overall however, the nuclear share in France is expected to decline slightly from 75 per cent in 2012 to 72 per cent in 2030.

In the UK, the share of nuclear power is set to increase from the current 16 per cent in 2012 to over 20 per cent in 2030. The exact share will depend on the number of yet undisclosed projects which will be approved by the Health & Safety Executive.  The current deal is worth at least £500 million would create 1,500 UK jobs."

Fig. 1. The Nuclear power sector in Europe per country in 2010 and how we think the landscape will look like in 2020

. * Meanwhile, Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, also commenting on the nuclear power deal between the UK and France, said: “Although it is welcome news that the UK is pressing ahead with the development of new nuclear reactors, to secure affordable low-carbon electricity generation, this is not necessarily the best deal for securing UK jobs and skills.

“The construction of the nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will directly and indirectly create about 10,000 jobs. The UK has the ability to undertake about 70 per cent of the engineering and construction work of a new nuclear power plant. We must ensure that we do not miss out on an opportunity to develop UK industry, skills and jobs with the roll-out of the country’s new nuclear power stations.”
“Although some relatively small contracts are to be awarded to Rolls Royce and BAM Kier, it looks increasingly likely that the vast majority of the contracts involved in the manufacture and construction of the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will go to France rather than the UK. An outcome the Institution predicted in it Nuclear New Build report two years ago."  [Page Break]

* Atkins and Assystem are to expand their nuclear engineering alliance to support EDF in the deployment of the UK European Pressurized water Reactor (EPR) programme. The alliance will support EDF in those parts of its programme where it seeks a Franco-British team. This agreement broadens the scope of the partners’ alliance, The Nuclear Atkins Assystem Alliance (n.triple.a) formed in early 2011 to meet the needs of governments and utilities in countries interested in developing nuclear energy.
EDF Energy is planning to build four EPR units in the United Kingdom that will ultimately deliver 6.4GW, helping to meet the country's energy needs while adding a safe, affordable, low-carbon energy source to the country's energy mix.
EDF and Assystem have a long-standing relationship in nuclear energy. Assystem has been by EDF's side throughout the construction of France's installed base and has continued to provide its expertise through operation and maintenance contracts. Atkins is a major British engineering and design consultancy with a deep involvement in the construction and operation of Britain's nuclear power plants. It is also very active in the UK’s nuclear new build programme.
Together, Assystem and Atkins will combine their experience from the first EPR projects and knowledge of EDF's operating methods with Atkins' local presence and in-depth understanding of Britain’s nuclear energy programme.[Page Break]
Uwe Krueger, chief executive officer, Atkins explained: “The combination of Atkins’ and Assystem’s expertise in nuclear engineering offers unrivalled skills to clients in the nuclear new build sector. Over the past year, the two companies have forged strong working links and it made perfect sense to expand our alliance one year after its creation. Nuclear engineering is an integral part of Atkins’ growth strategy. The extension of our n.triple.a alliance gives us an even stronger platform from which to deliver nuclear services for new build programmes.”
Dominique Louis, Chairman of the Assystem Management Board, added: “Our collaboration with Atkins continues to deliver new benefits and allows us to move to a higher level of excellence for our clients.   Our combined capabilities, unparalleled in today’s industry, are the best guarantee for deploying a safe, fully controlled nuclear power programme.”
The Nuclear Atkins Assystem Alliance has secured contracts in the Middle East and is active in the nuclear market internationally.
Assystem and Atkins teams are also working together on the ITER international nuclear fusion research project, after being selected in April 2010 as part of the Engage consortium to act as Building Architect Engineer. In addition, the partners are participating together in France's offshore wind tender.

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