IN THIS ISSUE: EXPLORING URENCO’S WONDERLAB EXHIBITION, WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE HINKLEY SUPPLY CHAIN, WORKING WITH RENEWABLES, UNDERSTANDING THE APPRENTICESHIP LEVY, TRUMP’S ENERGY PLAN, #DECOMSUPPLY EVENT AND FUSION ROBOTICS
MAGAZINE OF THE UK NUCLEAR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION WINTER / 2016
7 Here’s to a new generation
DECOMMISSIONING 27 IN OXFORD
So Hinkley Got The Greenlight. What Next? 10 A PARTNERSHIP TO 16 KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
Cleaner, faster, better It is one thing to imagine a better world. Itâ€™s another to deliver it.
Through our collaborative approach and collective global expertise, our teams deliver secure, cleaner, safe energy supplies to power our towns and cities.
aecom.com @AECOMEnergy B â€” WINTER | 2016
Welcome to IndustryLink Well, what a difference a year makes. For a lot of people, waving goodbye to 2016 will not be difficult. Political decisions have been taken which have gone against established opinion, England failed at an international tournament again and an eerily high number of cultural icons lost their lives. But for the UK's nuclear industry, the past 12 months have arguably been the most important for decades. Looking at this, Tom Greatrex reflects on his first year in the industry and the progress made across the sector Peter Haslam looks back on the political situation in the UK - touching on Trump but focusing on the party conference season. AECOM's Craig Jones looks beyond the Hinkley decision and what the supply chain needs to do now. NNL's Peter O'Brein reflects on another successful NIA Decommissioning Business Group meeting and our cover piece reports on URENCO's Wonderlab Science Museum exhibition, asking how important are these projects? If you are reading this at Nuclear 2016, you will have already heard or be about to hear what 2017 has in store for the sector. New build underway in Somerset, continued decommissioning, crucial operations ongoing and a business focus to make the most of the available opportunities in the UK and overseas. Thank you for reading Industry Link and all of us in the team would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and we'll see you in 2017!
Rupert Lewis email@example.com IN THIS ISSUE...
ROBOTICS DEAL FOR NUVIA AND UKAEA PAGE 20
WORKING PAGE 8 TOGETHER GENERATES MORE POWER
NUCLEAR SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE
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Editor - Rupert Lewis Art Editor - Dan Powney Contributors - Tom Greatrex, Sara Crane, Peter Haslam, Rebecca Thorington, Martin Land – AECOM, Maf Smith – RenewableUK, Craig Jones – GE, Joanna Woolf – Cogent Skills, Colin Punler – Cavendish Nuclear, Tony Brown – Nuvia, Peter O'Brein – National Nuclear Laboratory, with additional thanks to World Nuclear News
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Cover image: ©Plastiques Photography, courtesy of the Science Museum This magazine is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, using vegetable based inks.
Making science fun BY. RUPERT LEWIS
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for the Electricity section, the exhibit focuses on the properties of magnets and how to build a circuit to power a lightbulb and even a burglar alarm. In the other areas you can watch water freeze through a magnifying glass, create mesmeric wave oscillations, push yourself down the different friction slides and explore a giant rotating solar system. At the opening of the exhibit URENCO’s Chairman, Stephen Billingham said, ‘‘I have been visiting the Science Museum since I was a boy, and the galleries have never ceased to amaze me. I have no doubt that this incredible space will spark wonder and curiosity in science for all generations.” Well he can certainly be in no doubt now. At each of the exhibits the students were stopping, staring and absorbing the information, screaming at their friends to come over to see the liquid nitrogen at the periodic table decorated chemistry bar or the oddity of light reflection in the colour room. But what was more obvious was the parents and teachers, who after a degree of hesitation, got stuck into trying the air cannon, visible vibrations and gravity run exhibitions. Alongside the exhibits, a series of live shows looking at electricity, rockets, space and more are on throughout the day. During my visit, I managed to squeeze into the rockets show which took me back to the
science 10 year old Rupert used to enjoy, explosions! Learning about Newton’s Third Law; balloons were blown up, hydrogenfilled Pringles cans were lit on fire and children were tasked with trying to push their parents and vice versa. Funny, engaging and interesting – it was brilliant. The Government and industry always focus on the dearth of scientists and to a wider degree, STEM-based skills. That is why exhibitions like these, which are so good, are so important. The Museum has stated it would like to see 200,000 young people in school groups visit the gallery and even if only a small proportion continue their science studies into College, University and beyond it will all have been worth it, so well done URENCO. As Stephen Billingham said, “Wonderlab embodies everything we hold dear at URENCO; science and technology are at the very heart of what we do and the Gallery fits perfectly with our ambition to inspire future generations of science leaders.” While my Geography degree and geeky interest in American politics put rest to my father’s ambition for me to be a scientific leader, I’m now in a position in the nuclear industry to spread the STEM word and I would urge you to head down to the Science Museum or get in touch with your child’s school and ask them to organise a trip – you won’t be disappointed!
© Plastiques Photography, courtesy of the Science Museum — www.sciencemuseum.org.uk
There is a certain amount of cynicism attached to companies sponsoring exhibits for children. Whether it is the whiff of propaganda or the awkward branding placement, something makes me slightly uncomfortable about corporate sponsorship of attractions aimed at educating students. So when URENCO said they wanted to write about their Wonderlab exhibition at the Science Museum in the next edition of Industry Link, I was of course polite but slightly reticent. So instead of the press release based article that often accompany the wonderfully arty photos, I went along to the exhibition myself to witness it first hand and hopefully put my prejudice to rest. Well unsurprisingly, because URENCO sanctioned the publication of this article, I can say I was massively impressed. There was no garish branding, in fact none at all which is refreshing, and no in your face “nuclear is great” panels. Instead, just plenty of enthralled children and a number of parents and teachers, probably enjoying themselves too much. Although I must admit I too brought out my inner child (for journalistic purposes obviously). The Wonderlab has 50 interactive exhibits in total and is divided into seven sections; Forces, Electricity, Sound, Light, Matter, Space and Maths. Heading straight
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Reflecting on a year of change BY. TOM GREATREX
There is always a danger in writing a column reflecting on the events of the preceding year that the immediacy of events lend them greater significance. What seems momentous now may well, in a year or two, seem mundane and normal. The deaths of notable figures reminding us of our own mortality are quickly forgotten. Tragic events with human repercussions, from civil war and a refugee crisis to the murder of a Member of Parliament, shock us into contemplation for a fleetingly short period. But, at the risk of falling into my own trap, I think 2016 has (so far) been an exercise in proving the maxim to expect the unexpected. At the end of 2015, while we knew there would be a referendum on our membership of the European Union, it seemed unlikely that we would end up with an almost evenly split vote – and inconceivable that it would lead to an effective change of Government within a few days. A new Prime Minister, new Chancellor, a new Department including energy policy and a vacuum in how the country approaches the process of extracting ourselves from the EU. The long awaited and keenly anticipated final decision on our first new nuclear power station for a generation was an early example of getting caught in the middle of those unanticipated events. With EDF having taken the final investment decision, new Ministers wanting additional time to familiarise themselves with the arrangements was odd considering quite how much scrutiny there had already been. The clumsy briefing from some in Government invited a torrent of ill-informed commentary during the August silly season, but the internal review concluded what we had been saying for some time about the importance of new nuclear. So while 2016 has been dominated by Hinkley to the extent that the name of the power station has entered the public consciousness, it is far from the only nuclear story in town. The launch of the first stage of a competition for small modular reactor technology with the tantalising prize of
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the UK being the global centre of excellence for the entire supply chain; significant progress on decommissioning success and reduction of hazard across licensed sites; a new operating model for Sellafield coming into effect; signals that development of a long term site for high level waste storage will shortly begin in earnest; and greater international interest both in investment in the UK and seeking UK expertise to partner and assist further afield. While some may feel that the term nuclear renaissance has been over-used in recent years, the reality is that it is impossible to meet both domestic and global emissions targets without nuclear as part of the mix. A secure and reliable supply with reduced dependence on the volatility of global commodity prices needs nuclear, and any meaningful industrial strategy aligned with infrastructure upgrades needs nuclear skills and supply chain to make it real. That reality remains uncomfortable for some, and with those with an ideological objection to nuclear power given the oxygen of publicity in 2016, means there is a responsibility on our industry to calmly set out the facts. While 2016 has been about (waiting for) decisions, 2017 will likely see a shift to the scrutiny of the delivery of those decisions. During the course of 2016, there have been some changes in the NIA too. Refreshing and updating our identity and website, the introduction of new initiatives to keep our member companies up to date and a more prominent role in the overall energy debate in the UK are important aspects of being ready to respond to the challenges in 2017. The industry has achieved a lot during the last year, we have made some good progress – but the profile of our industry will be even higher moving forward. 2016 has been a momentous year in ways that will impact most people’s lives, but how momentous can only really be judged in the years ahead. It has also been an important and significant year for our industry – and gives us the platform for a successful, interesting and challenging time ahead.
MEDIA WATCH NEWS
Tom Greatrex was quoted in a Financial Times article looking at the UK’s nuclear supply chain involvement in the new build programme. On the issue, Tom said, “It’s not possible to do absolutely everything as we don’t have the industrial capability. But it is possible with this and further projects to help build up that capability and supply chain expertise both for the UK programme and export. That in a sense is the real prize.” EDF and its partners have stated 64% of Hinkley Point C’s construction value is expected to be spent with UK firms. Following the Government’s decision to give the green light for Hinkley, Tom Greatrex was quoted in a number of news outlets in the UK and overseas. Recently, Tom was interviewed live on China’s Phoenix TV about Chinese involvement in the UK’s new build programme. They also discussed the decision to leave the European Union, focussing on foreign direct investment, UK-China collaboration and public acceptance of China’s involvement in Hinkley. The UK’s nuclear new build developers were questioned about each of their projects finance structures by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. Reported in the Daily Telegraph and on World Nuclear News, EDF Energy reiterated the Government is not paying anything towards Hinkley. Tom Samson of NuGen, said elements of new build could be “carved up in different way to allow the Government to take a role in some of the enabling infrastructure”. David Stearns of Horizon said funding for its Wylfa Newydd project will come from the private sector through equity and debt, he added the company has a competitive supply chain in place and the ABWR technology is a proven design. In November, the Government announced over £20 million will be spent on supporting innovation in the nuclear sector across five areas of work. The work programmes will cover; nuclear fuels, reactor designs, materials and manufacturing, fuel recycling and toolkits. Tom Greatrex was quoted welcoming the news explaining the funding will “ensure the UK nuclear industry helps accelerate innovation in energy technology as an integral part of the UK's emerging industrial strategy.” Chair of NIRAB, Dame Sue Ion argued the funding “will begin to equip our universities, national labs and industry with world leading skills and capability and act as a stimulus to national and international collaborative working.” Tom Greatrex took part in a debate with Paul Mount from the Renewable Energy Association on the future of low carbon technologies at Energy Live News’s annual conference. Following the debate, Tom spoke to Energy Live News about the Autumn Statement. In the interview, he explained the NIA wants “clarity on where the Government stands in relation to some big important things: carbon price floor, what happens with the Levy Control Framework beyond 2021… and what they want to do about [SMRs].”
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India and Japan strengthen ties India and Japan have signed a nuclear cooperation agreement which opens the door for India to import Japanese nuclear technology. India’s Prime Minister Modi said the signing marked a “historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership”, adding that their cooperation would help “combat the challenge of climate change”. In a joint statement, the two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together for India to become a full member of the international Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as well as the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, with the aim of strengthening international nonproliferation efforts.
IAEA establish new safety network The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new network to strengthen nuclear and radiation safety in Europe and Central Asia. The European and Central Asian Safety Network (EuCAS Network) brings together 20 Member States and 22
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organisations with a responsibility for nuclear safety. The EuCAS Network is initially envisaged to address the management of radioactive waste resulting from nuclear power plants and other nuclear applications. Preparatory work has also identified environmental remediation and the decommissioning of power and research reactors as areas to be explored. Countries that have joined the EuCAS Network so far are Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece Germany, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Tajikistan.
China’s floating reactor China General nuclear has begun construction of China’s first floating nuclear power plant. The demonstration unit is expected to be completed by 2020. Development of the ACPR50S reactor design was approved by China's National Development and Reform Commission in late December 2015 as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan for innovative energy technologies. The 200 MWt (60 MWe) reactor has been developed for the supply of electricity, heat and desalination and could be used on islands or in coastal areas, or offshore oil and gas exploration. Russia is also building a floating nuclear power plant, featuring two 35
MWe KLT-40S reactors. The Akademik Lomonosov is currently undergoing trials, which are expected to be completed by late October 2017.
StarCore reactor begins Canadian design review Canadian reactor designer StarCore Nuclear has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to begin the vendor design review process for its Generation IV high temperature gas reactor (HTGR). StarCore’s standard HTGR unit would produce 20 MWe, expandable to 100 MWe, from a unit small enough to be delivered by truck. The helium-cooled reactor uses Triso fuel - spherical particles of uranium fuel coated by carbon which effectively gives each tiny particle its own primary containment system - manufactured by BWXT Technologies. Each reactor would require refuelling at five-yearly intervals. StarCore describes its reactor as “inherently safe”, with a steep negative thermal coefficient which eliminates the possibility of a core meltdown. The use of helium - which does not become radioactive - as a coolant means that any loss of coolant would be “inconsequential”. The reactors would be embedded 50 metres underground in concrete silos sealed with ten-tonne caps.
For more details on these and other stories please visit www.world-nuclear-news.org
Here’s to a new generation BY. MARTIN LAND / AECOM
It is an exciting time that promises to be both challenging and rewarding. The new build programme will bring identifiable long-term benefits in our domestic industrial development, skills development and international partnerships. It will also support the UK’s low carbon generation agenda and replace essential baseload units, providing a core security of supply and boosting local economies around the country. The major undertakings led by EDF, Horizon, NuGen and CGN, enabled by Government action and coupled with existing f leet operations and decommissioning works, create the largest concentration of activity in the nuclear sector in the western hemisphere. Working together to deliver new f leets and dealing with the programme of retirements and clean-up creates an enormous opportunity, of a scale that demands deep experience in execution. The programme will require discipline and rigour in management approach, together with learning and feedback from previous endeavours.
At AECOM we have worked on over 40 new build projects as engineer and/or constructor and have dealt extensively with nuclear decommissioning. We have recently been involved in over 50% of key asset replacements in the US fleet, including reactor heads and steam generators, honing technical best practice and reducing outage periods. Our ability to shape the delivery of new build programmes has been built steadily over the past 60 years, with standardised programme management and execution models that have matured through decades of real experience. Uniquely among nuclear engineering experts, we are also adept at developing and delivering the supporting facilities, associated development and wider infrastructure, which can account for 20% of capital expenditure and is often seen as a distraction to owners and EPC contractors. The creation of efficient infrastructure, including new road, rail and marine facilities, is a big part of what we do at AECOM. However, many of the most pressing challenges facing the UK’s new build programme are financial
rather than technical. The required investments are ambitious both in scale, scope and structure. Aligning strategic, commercial, licensing and technical aspects of the projects to create convergence and transparency is essential in building a compelling investment proposition. The time taken to reach, make and confirm a decision on Hinkley Point C reflects the complexity and stakeholder challenges of a first-of-a-kind project of this magnitude. Now the final investment decision milestone has been reached, there’s a pathway for others to follow. We will all have our parts to play to make subsequent projects affordable and attractive, helping to build confidence among investors and provide a springboard for learning. We are entering an exhilarating period, with a wave of development that will bolster the UK’s nuclear engineering skills while also delivering the regional infrastructure and the social and economic benefits that always arise with major capital projects. Plenty of hard work lies ahead, but there is also a lot to look forward to. Here’s to a new generation.
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Image courtesy of AECOM — www.aecom.com
The UK is fast becoming the centre of attention in the global energy industry as our nuclear new build programme progresses, with Hinkley Point C moving into construction and other projects advancing through various stages of development.
Working together generates more power BY. MAF SMITH ⁄ RENEWABLEUK
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he low carbon energy sector is Britain’s modern energy powerhouse. It’s great to be a part of this, with renewables working closely alongside the nuclear industry to put forward a positive case for deploying a wide range of technologies in our energy mix, to encourage even greater competition and keep costs down for consumers. I’m very pleased this year we’re sharing high-profile platforms in public with our nuclear colleagues more regularly than ever before. And I’m grateful for the invitation to speak at the NIA's keynote event, Nuclear 2016. In October, our Chief Executive Hugh McNeal appeared alongside Tom Greatrex, and the Energy Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, at an event on delivering value for money held at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. The Minister rightly highlighted the key role nuclear plays in delivering low-carbon energy, and we were delighted to welcome Tom to our annual event in November. When we were work together, we are undoubtedly stronger. The message coming from these platforms is clear: the UK’s energy challenge is how to keep the lights on at lowest cost, while keeping within our carbon reduction commitments. There is also an ongoing challenge for the technologies we represent to show the industrial benefits to the UK from choosing low carbon power. As the costs of renewables plummets here and abroad, continuing to develop a diverse portfolio of low carbon sources is the right choice for consumers. The Government has made a clear commitment that in future our power will come from nuclear, renewables and gas – and not coal. The transition is already well underway – coal consumption decreased by 23% in 2015. The Government’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics notes that one of the main reasons for this was, “the increased availability of nuclear and wind generation”. So we are natural bedfellows.
This technology can be exported to the rest of the world, but the UK faces stiff competition from the global market for the investment, expertise and intellectual property we’ve already built up. Wave and tidal technologies are clear commercial opportunities for the UK. We already have a global reputation for finding solutions to marine engineering challenges and our geography has gifted us the best ocean energy resources in Europe. Onshore wind has an important role to play too, as it’s the most cost-effective form of new-build power generation available in Britain. It offers cheap, home-grown electricity and a pipeline of shovel-ready projects ready to deliver. Around 70% of the economic value of British onshore wind projects comes back to our country over the life of their operation. Instead of subsidy, we are now at a point where there are onshore projects we could build in Britain where consumers will benefit – where it is cheaper to build onshore wind than new gas plants. Of course this has to be areas where it is wanted. Each of these technologies has much to offer within the context of the low-carbon energy mix alongside nuclear power. Tom Greatrex recently re-tweeted one of Hugh’s comments about the importance of ensuring that support for individual technologies is not politicised. It’s important to keep our portfolio of energy sources as wide-ranging as possible, as each low-carbon technology has its own particular strengths, and to work together on common areas of interest such as finding the skills base we need to meet our engineering challenges. That’s why we’re clear that we need nuclear power, onshore and offshore wind, marine energy and other renewable sources complementing each other, innovating relentlessly and competing against each other on cost, to keep the lights on and to keep electricity bills down in the decades ahead.
Wind farm at mouth of the River Tees © SenexDomum — www.istockphoto.com (Stock photo ID:91240745)
In 2015, nuclear supplied 21% of the UK’s electricity, and 25% came from renewables. Together we are already generating nearly half of Britain’s power needs. However, the UK faces a looming energy gap in the 2020s. We’re investing now to help bridge that gap; offshore wind alone already generates over 5% of UK electricity – enough to power over 4 million homes – and this will double to over 10% by 2020. And by 2030 offshore could meet over a third of the UK’s power needs. Like the nuclear industry, we understand we face scrutiny on costs and economic benefits from the public and politicians and we’re happy to make the case for the technologies RenewableUK represents within the new low carbon mix. The UK is the largest single offshore wind market in the world. Our leadership in this technology has attracted investment in new facilities from the leading international offshore wind manufacturers, and is creating a growing domestic supply chain. Over £18bn will be invested in the next five years, making offshore wind the sixth largest UK infrastructure programme. Offshore wind will be one of the lowest cost sources of new power in the 2020s. Subsidy levels have already fallen by nearly 40% and the cost of supporting new offshore wind farms will fall by a further 30% in this Parliament. The other offshore technologies we represent, wave and tidal energy, are still maturing but they’ve made huge strides forward this year. The UK is the global leader in marine energy. In Scotland this summer we’ve seen the launch of the first commercial-scale array of tidal turbines anywhere in the world, as well as the first community-scale array. The most powerful tidal turbine in the world has been installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. And in the South West of England, a next-generation wave power device will be installed later this year at the WaveHub test centre.
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Those in the nuclear industry know that decisions never come quick or easy. It’s now two months since the decision to proceed with Hinkley. In our new postBrexit context, this decision is a strong signal that the new Government is prepared to make big, difficult infrastructure decisions – and welcome the inward investment our economy needs. But the new generation of power plants – to replace the older fleet as it comes off line – is the right decision for both the UK’s energy security, and for our economy. We need to build on this momentum. You will be familiar with the key facts about Hinkley Point C: 3.2 GW; ready by 2025; operating for 60 years; 25,000 jobs; and a £18bn price tag. It’s worth reminding ourselves that much of this investment is going straight back into the British economy today. Even before the greenlight to proceed, over £1.5 billion was spent in Britain to allow EDF and its supply chain to get going quickly following the approval in September. EDF expects that 64% of the project’s construction value will be placed with UK companies. So – now the hard work begins. Whilst other companies have been clearing the ground for the pouring of concrete, at GE we have been working hard on pre-engineering the conventional power islands – the future homes of the world’s two largest nuclear steam turbines. A single Arabelle steam turbine is longer than an Airbus 380, and yet only a few feet taller than the average person. Fed by two nuclear reactors, they will convert nuclear steam into enough electricity for around six million homes. Following the decision to proceed, GE’s partnerships with the UK supply chain have also gone up a gear. GE is working closely with a number of UK companies – including Harris Pye in Wales and Clyde Union in Scotland. Keeping British industrial companies like Harris Pye in a position to invest in its local community is the untold story of big infrastructure projects like Hinkley. Harris Pye is based in the Vale of Glamorgan and manufactures industrialgrade pressure vessels that serve the global marine, oil and gas, offshore and industrial sectors. With the ongoing challenges faced by the oil and gas industry, Hinkley represents an opportunity for Harris Pye to diversify into the power generation sector. The deal also allows them to invest in their local workforce, continue to commit to graduate training, apprenticeships and of course their own local supply chain. Today, Harris Pye has around 150 permanent employees and sponsor 12
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local young people, training them in their welding and boiler making training schools. This is in addition to the apprenticeship and graduate schemes that support a further 20 local young people between them. Hinkley gives them a chance to grow their business and grow their support for local talent. There are many other stories like this around the country. Hinkley points to a broader building of skills and expertise – and that gives us reason to hope that the positive decision at Hinkley will open the door for future investment in the sector. That next big project is Horizon’s Wylfa on Anglesey. Here, GE's nuclear alliance partner Hitachi continues to make excellent progress towards completing the Generic Design Assessment of the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) by the end of 2017. The UK will be the fourth country where the ABWR is licensed. With its excellent construction track record and operating experience, this will provide a sound basis for Horizon to work towards a final investment decision in the next couple of years. At the same time as the ongoing developments at Wylfa, GE Hitachi is also engaged in the UK's Small Modular Reactor (SMR) programme with the submission of its PRISM technology into phase one of the Government’s SMR competition. PRISM is a small advanced reactor with output that can be configured from around 160 MWe to 600 MWe using a modular approach. It offers the UK more than most SMRs in that it can re-use the UK's plutonium stockpile and recycle used nuclear fuel. PRISM can be 100% factory fabricated with the potential for the vast majority of this to be undertaken in the UK providing another huge opportunity for the UK supply chain. In short, new technologies and bold policy decisions are bringing the investment that Britain needs for its local supply chain and communities – whilst ensuring decades of reliable low carbon energy. Decisions in the nuclear industry might not come quick or easy, but they are the right decisions. Now we have to build on this momentum. CRAIG JONES Director GE
So Hinkley Got The Greenlight. What Next?
2016 | WINTER â€” 11
A new nuclear generation BY. RUPERT LEWIS
You don’t need to commission an expensive survey to find out the age demographic of the UK’s nuclear industry. Instead just have a look around at Nuclear 2016 and you can see the problem. While there is a clear argument most industry conferences are full of largely middle aged men, the problem stretches beyond and into the workforce. For a long time the nuclear industry’s skill base has been ageing. Years ago the sun was setting with no new build on the horizon, a limited existence for operations and no appetite to advertise the decommissioning programme but all that has changed. The regulator has approved life extensions for the existing f leet of reactors, Hinkley is definitely happening and the UK is exporting its decommissioning expertise all over the world. Now the challenge is for the industry and Government to ensure the UK has the right skills to deliver. Meeting the skills challenge is something which has affected almost every manufacturing, construction and engineering industry. Individual companies are investing in their own skills but there is a business and financial risk in investing in skills, especially in an uncertain world where President Trump and Brexit can throw policy out overnight. This political and investment uncertainty has put the onus on Government. Back in June 2014 the Government set out an aim to create National College’s to address skills gaps in the UK economy. One of these was a College for Nuclear and it would help
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develop qualifications to meet the needs of employers. The College will develop and maintain a Nuclear Curriculum and set standards by accrediting and recognising qualifications. Later it was announced a northern hub in Cumbria would be created as well as a southern hub in Somerset. Time has moved on and construction on the northern hub at Lakes College in Workington began in October and the sites are being developed with the aim of training 7,000 people by 2020. The College in Cumbria will include virtual reality suites, science and radiation laboratories, IT modelling suites, f lexible workshop and much, much more. Commenting on the development, Chris Nattress, Lakes College Principal, said, “We are delighted that work has begun on the National College for Nuclear facility here at Lakes College. It represents a lot of hard work by many people, and we’re looking forward to seeing this superb building complete. The hub will play a huge role in the future of nuclear, both here in Cumbria, and on a national scale.” The northern hub is due to open by September 2017 and the southern hub in Bridgwater, Somerset by November 2017. The industry will need tens of thousands of new people and new skills to build, operate and decommission the UK’s nuclear fleet. The National College development is an important step on this challenging road, and it will not only change the lives of its students but they will morph the future of the whole nuclear sector.
Making the most of the Apprenticeship Levy Modelling the nuclear workforce; to ensure the right people with the right skills are available at the right time for a sustainable future
or the first time in decades, the UK is set to build a new fleet of power stations. This much anticipated renaissance means we will need increased numbers of highly skilled people to build and operate the new fleet, as well as a skilled workforce to continue to run the existing stations, decommission the older ones and safely process nuclear waste. Indeed, as outlined in the Nuclear Workforce Assessment 2015, construction of five sites for 16 GWe new generation capacity, has a significant impact on total nuclear workforce demand, causing it to rise from 78,000 FTEs in 2015 to 111,000 by 2021. Apprenticeships have long played a vital part in addressing this continued and multifaceted nuclear skills challenge and the Government’s commitment to more high quality apprenticeships has been welcomed by the nuclear industry. The forthcoming apprenticeship levy – a 0.5% payroll tax on all employers with a wage bill of £3 million and over – presents an opportunity to further these objectives. However, employers are very clear that it needs to be utilised in a way that meets the sector’s strategic skills priorities, particularly given the time it takes to gain the necessary skills, qualifications and experience required to undertake the range of nuclear specialist roles. Degree apprenticeships in nuclear, for example, enable young people, who might previously have gone to
university, to study for a degree while gaining critical work experience and earning a wage. This innovative new model brings together the best of higher and vocational education and means individuals can make a very early contribution to the company, as their learning is firmly embedded in the workplace. The new apprenticeship funding system is being designed with such high quality apprenticeships in mind. The Government has recognised the significant costs of investing in STEM apprenticeships, recently announcing more funding for science-based apprenticeships to support improved quality. The industry would still like to see more f lexibility to use levy on workforce training and CPD. One idea put to Government is that unused apprenticeship levy vouchers within the nuclear sector could be used for wider upskilling of the workforce, including into the supply chain. Given the importance of upskilling and reskilling the workforce in the light of new build, such an application of the levy would help the sector gear up for the challenges that lie ahead. Nuclear companies have contributed to a number of Nuclear Trailblazer apprenticeships, developing new employer-led standards. Dedicated nuclear sector representatives through a sub-group of the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group will continue to identify
and map industry requirements for apprenticeship standards, and associated qualifications. They will oversee and coordinate their development, ensuring that employers are spending their levy on fit-for-purpose employer-led training. The introduction of the apprenticeship levy will of course affect individual nuclear companies differently, depending on their circumstances and the make-up of their workforce; but the sector as a whole has contributed to development of this Government policy. As the levy is implemented, nuclear employers will continue to ensure that it works for the sector, seeking maximum value from the overall contribution made and directing the levy funding to high quality training that meets the needs of the sector’s ambitious forward programme. The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG) is facilitated by Cogent Skills. For more information and to download a copy of the Nuclear Workforce Assessment visit www.cogentskills. com/about-cogent-skills/research-policy/ nuclear-workforce-assessment. JOANNA WOOLF CEO Cogent Skills
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The birth of civil nuclear 17 October 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II opening the UK’s first nuclear power station – Calder Hall. On the day, delegates from 48 countries attended the grand event on the Cumbrian coast to see the Queen cut the ribbon and herald the dawn of the civil nuclear age. Calder Hall led the way for the UK in the use of nuclear fuel to generate electricity, and was the first in the world to be connected to the national grid. The station operated for 47 years, twice its planned design life and following on from Calder Hall, a further 14 reactors of similar design were built across the UK along with two more stations in Italy and Japan. Covering more than 43 acres the iconic station has the same sized footprint as Buckingham Palace and its grounds. It continues to blaze a trail, now in nuclear decommissioning with the complex clean-up of the station well underway.
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Off Shore Platforms Porth y Pistyll © Horizon Nuclear Power — www.horizonnuclearpower.com
A partnership to keep the lights on BY. COLIN PUNLER / CAVENDISH NUCLEAR
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Months of media speculation about a new era of nuclear power plant may have generated all the heat – but it’s the teams working tirelessly to keep the old plant running who are creating all the light. One in every five homes in the UK today runs on electricity from the second generation of nuclear power plant. These are the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGRs), whose design dates from the 1960s, and they are found at seven sites in England and Scotland. Together with a more recent Pressurised Water Reactor, these plant make up the UK’s total nuclear generating capacity, accounting for some 20% of all supply. Their continued operation over the next decade or so until new plant comes on stream is a vital part of UK energy security and the country’s low-carbon climate change strategy. The fleet is owned and operated by EDF Energy, which is extending the lifetimes of the AGRs by an average of seven years. And just as much as the country needs EDF Energy to keep the reactors up and running, so too does EDF Energy need the original equipment manufacturers to keep servicing their installations and
guaranteeing the replacement parts until the reactors finally reach the end of their operating life. One of these is Cavendish Nuclear, the UK’s largest nuclear services business and holder of the fuel route knowledge and design for the AGR fleet. It’s a relationship that dates back to the 1970s and commissioning of the first commercial AGR – the twin-reactor site at Dungeness B in Kent. Paul Bates, EDF Energy account director at Cavendish Nuclear, acknowledges the challenge that lifetime extensions bring – and how it has brought client and contractor even closer together to see each reactor through to the end. “As plant becomes older, it becomes even more important to retain and transfer the knowledge and experience from one generation to the next,” he says. “We need to address issues of obsolescence and maintain a supply chain capable of staying true to the original design so that our spares and equipment continue to be compliant and the risk of plant breakdown is mitigated. “We’re delighted that EDF Energy and Cavendish Nuclear have committed
to a long-term relationship through a partnering agreement that will take us through to the end of life for each reactor. This strategic approach brings a level of collaboration that is good for the customer and good for us. It’s how we like to do business.” Cavendish Nuclear employs about 300 people full-time on its work supporting the EDF Energy fleet. In addition to its OEM role, the teams carry out graphite inspections and provide engineering and technical support for reactor operations, while the company maintains the only test rig of its kind for the AGR gas circulators at its engineering base in Leicestershire. During maintenance outages, the Cavendish Nuclear presence at a station can swell to 200. The company has interests at every nuclear site in the UK, including the decommissioning of every firstgeneration Magnox, research and breeder reactor plants, giving it an unrivalled pool of 6,000 staff to call upon and the back-up of being part of the Babcock International Group with its major stake in the UK’s submarine reactor programme.
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After Hinkley, what about Sizewell? BY. RUPERT LEWIS
Roughly two decades ago when Sizewell B was switched on, a plan was in place to replicate that project with a series of new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point C and other sites around the UK. History tell us this didn’t happen, largely because of the dash for gas, and the UK has never really been able to shake off its addiction to gas ever since. But 21 years on, with approval from the Government and EDF granted for Hinkley Point C the UK’s nuclear industry is now looking at what comes next. A number of projects are in the pipeline. Horizon Nuclear Power’s project at Wylfa Newydd is gathering pace with consultation work coming to a close, and its chosen reactor the UK ABWR is nearing the finish line of the regulators’ Generic Design Assessment (GDA). NuGen’s Moorside programme is also moving through the regulatory and consultation motions. Its chosen AP1000 reactor is on track to finish the GDA in 2017 and now the focus of the company is on gathering together the finance before it can make its own Final Investment Decision. For EDF, with the green light granted for Hinkley, the focus has shifted to replicating the project in Suffolk at Sizewell C. The project sped up again in November when the company published the timetable for the second stage of formal public consultation for the project. The consultation formally began on 23 November and will close on 3 February 2017.
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The company’s aim is to engage with over 4,000 local people at more than 100 events in the local area and following feedback from the Stage 1 consultation they have developed a preferred position on some key elements, whilst other parts of their plans remain as options. Like Hinkley Point C, the Sizewell C proposal is for two UK EPR reactors to be built on the site which would supply enough electricity for more than five million homes, meeting 7% of the UK’s future needs. The power station will generate 5,600 jobs on site during the core construction period and employment for 900 people when operational. Jim Crawford, Sizewell C Project Development Director, said: “We have introduced this further stage of formal public consultation to give the public an opportunity to see how our plans have developed and to help us shape them further before a final stage of consultation. “We understand it has been some time since we published our initial proposals for feedback, so I would like to encourage people to look through the latest plans for Sizewell C, to visit one of the exhibitions and to take the opportunity to have their say in the development of the project.” You can get involved in the consultation in a number of ways and visit www.sizewellc.co.uk or phone 0800 197 6102 for more information.
At the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, we deliver the right amount of innovation to meet our customers’ needs. On one level, we might simply drill a hole to analyse underground waste with our integrated microdrilling technology. At the other extreme, we are developing state-of-the-art power systems to support deep space exploration. Find out more about what we can do for you at www.nnl.co.uk or email email@example.com
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Nuvia and the UKAEA among beneficiaries of a multi-million pound robotics deal BY. TONY BROWN / NUVIA
Trajectory of the equipment from the ITER machine to the maintenance hall ITER IO ©
UK company Nuvia is at the forefront of cutting-edge work to develop solutions to the world’s future energy needs and has now helped to secure the largest ever fusion energy robotics contract to date. Along with partners Airbus Safran Launchers and Cegelec CEM, Nuvia has signed a multi-million pound deal to develop robotics equipment for ITER, one of the world’s most ambitious energy projects. Worth nearly €100 million, the deal awarded by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the European Union’s organisation managing Europe’s contribution to ITER, will see state-of-the-art remote handling equipment become part of ITER, the world's largest experimental fusion facility. Fusion is the process that powers the sun. When light atomic nuclei fuse together a large amount of energy is released. Fusion research which aims to develop a safe, limitless and environmentally responsible energy source, is becoming increasingly vital to the UK’s nuclear industry and has the potential to produce at least 20% of the world's electricity by 2100. Speaking about the contract, Keith Collett, CEO of Nuvia Limited, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this significant framework alongside our consortium partners. The ITER project is at the forefront of research to develop solutions to the world’s future energy needs. We are pleased, as a UK company, working with the UKAEA, to be playing such a key role in this important global objective.” UKAEA will support Nuvia, bringing experience acquired through the development and operation of the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham in Oxfordshire. UKAEA’s practical experience in the design of components, tools, equipment and procedures for JET’s fullyintegrated remote handling system, is supported by 30,000
Illustration of human figure standing next to an ITER cask F4E ©
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operational hours over a period of 20 years and has become a point of reference in Europe for this type of tooling. UKAEA’s involvement will complement its wider role in providing technology support to the ITER project. Its remote handling services are supplied through its centre for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) recently opened at its Culham site. The high-tech remote handling systems will support the maintenance and repair of the ITER fusion device, where space is extremely limited and the exposure of some components to radioactivity prohibits any manual intervention. The systems to be developed include 15 huge double-door containers known as casks, weighing up to 100 tonnes, the casks which will facilitate the transfer of components from within ITER’s vacuum vessel to the Hot Cell building, where they will be deposited for maintenance. These casks will be remotely operated as they are loaded and moved between the different levels and buildings of the machine. The overall system is known as the ITER Cask and Plug Remote Handling System, and is underpinned by technologies that encompass a variety of high-tech systems which must comply with stringent nuclear safety requirements. Nuvia’s proven experience in similar fields and the development of bespoke systems to perform mechanical transfers is therefore essential as is its expertise in delivering remotely operated cells that function in high radiological environments. Keith Collett, continues: “This contract requires full EPC project delivery. It is gratifying that we have been recognised for our proven capabilities as an international project management organisation, supported by our wealth of experience across multiple disciplines. Our mission now is to safely and successfully deliver to our client’s expectations.”
Cut-away image of the ITER machine showing the casks at the three levels of the Tokamak building ITER IO ©
Trump’s energy plan points to change BY. RUPERT LEWIS
Elections are about issues and not policies. Donald Trump’s march to the Oval Office proved this thesis once again. His campaign was seen by many as a gaffe-laden joke and an ambitious publicity stunt. But his strong stance on illegal immigration, law and order and protecting American business and values chimed with voters in the key battleground states. Now the world has to take him and his ideas seriously. Everyone knows about the wall; a strict vetting system for Muslim immigrants and the repealing of Obamacare, but what about his energy policy? His “America First Energy Plan” focuses on making America energy independent, creating new jobs, and protecting the country’s clean air and clean water. His plan doesn’t touch on nuclear power playing a significant role but rather focuses on “Unleash[ing] America’s $50
trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” On the key issues, Trump’s campaign page highlights that energy costs of $5,000 per year for the average American household are too high. It also explains the shale industry could create two million jobs in seven years and the oil and natural gas industry can create 400,000 new jobs every year. This implies a strong shift back to fossil fuels and away from President Obama’s leading role in the fight against climate change and could make the US the biggest road block to future global agreements to fight rising emissions. Trump has previously stated in 140 characters, that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” He has also argued
in favour of dismantling the Paris COP21 Climate Agreement and said the US shouldn’t waste money on climate change but focus on issues of clean water, food production and eliminating disease. Commenting on the election campaign, Maria Korsnick, the incoming president of the USA's Nuclear Energy Institute said: “Throughout the presidential campaign nuclear energy was a bipartisan issue and one of the few areas of general agreement between the candidates. Additionally, public polling shows that the importance of nuclear energy to this nation's energy mix is one thing voters could agree on, irrespective of their candidate preference.” Trump’s whole political agenda has been about disagreeing with the established point of view. His energy plan continues this trend and could have massive global implications in the drive to explore and use cleaner forms of energy generation.
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#DecomSupply In November, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) held its annual supply chain conference #DecomSupply in Manchester. Over 1,600 members of the industry attended the event and the exhibition hall featured almost 300 stands, including the Nuclear Industry Association and a range of our members. The event is about engaging with the supply chain and improving opportunities for involvement in the UK’s decommissioning mission. At the event, the NDA announced that so far it has worked with 3,000 companies, two thirds of which are SMEs – an amazing achievement. The event also includes the NDA Supply Chain Awards. Congratulations to all the winners and highly commended companies, but especially to NIA members: Atkins Limited, Carillion plc, DBD Limited, Jacobs Ltd, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuvia, Sellafield Limited, Stainless Metalcraft (Chatteris) Ltd, TWI Ltd and Westinghouse. Congratulations must also be extended to the NDA for holding another massively successful event and to NIA members Marick Communications for putting it all together. See you all again in 2017!
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The Twittersphere BY. RUPERT LEWIS
My quest at the moment is getting the sacred blue tick for the NIA’s twitter account. For those of you who don’t know, a blue tick confirms your account as verified and ultimately a valued source of information in the crowded Twittersphere. A blue tick would certainly give @NIAUK a greater degree of credibility but also a certain amount of responsibility. For a long time I have wrestled with the balance of making our account interesting for those both inside and outside of the industry and here lies the problem if we do get a blue tick. Many retailers and celebrities have the blue tick and their branding dictates they have to be fun, opinionated and even obnoxious (@realDonaldTrump @piersmorgan @Jeremy Clarkson) but should a trade association ever diverge from the subject it has an interest in? Many accounts do just one thing, and many of them do it very well. @W_Nuclear_News just tweets nuclear news stories and has 26,000 followers, @RollsRoyce only ever tweets about their products and seems to have a blanket ban on re-tweeting and many other organisations just post simple, self-promoting, cautious tweets. For a trade association Who to follow? following this trend is the safe Want information on nuclear option and in an industry and other relevant topics? where risk is taboo, maybe This issue we recommend we should follow it, because you follow: clearly @NIAUK is not an individual which can spray strong and reactive opinions @RollsRoyce without caution. But would @W_Nuclear_News it make our account more @AECOMEnergy interesting and attract more followers if we did take risks? For instance we could go and seek accounts spreading lies about the industry and confront them or we could tweet about more than just nuclear or even energy in the UK? And I don’t mean excruciating #TGIF GIF’s of smiling people with beers or sleepy cats on Monday’s, but rather sharp, or throw away comments on non-energy related issues. To be honest I’m still working this out, but maybe it is time to take some risks with the NIA account or would this ruin any credibility, blue tick or not? Time will tell if I have the bottle to follow this through, and if I do, we’ll see if I still have a job by the time the next Twittersphere column comes around…
Twitter Count Followers: 4,075 Tweets: 5,911
@NIAUK: There's something new about the @NIAUK website - take a look and let us know what you think www.niauk.org
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NEWS IN BRIEF
Nuclear AMRC innovation could save billions The Nuclear AMRC is heading a new collaborative effort to reduce the cost of a range of radioactive waste container options, potentially saving billions of pounds over the Sellafield Ltd lifetime plan. An expected £4 billion will be spent on waste containers for the Sellafield decommissioning programme, owing to the high cost of manufacturing to existing designs. This programme aims to assess the global portfolio of waste containers, identifying opportunity for simplification, standardisation and innovation in order to realise massive cost savings for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority mission. The initial phase is supported by a consortium of industry stakeholders including Sellafield Ltd, Radioactive Waste Management Ltd and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). The future aim for Sellafield Ltd is to provide a functional specification in place of their detailed design to allow the
For the first time in the UK, divers are being used in the decommissioning process in the former cooling ponds at the Dungeness A site owned by Magnox. Using this new technique, divers cut up and package the pond skips once used for the storage of used nuclear fuel. The water in the ponds provides safety benefits through additional radiation protection for the divers. There are environmental benefits too, as the alternative of cutting the skips after they have been removed from the ponds would require additional measures to prevent potential airborne contamination. After the skips have been cut up they will be stored in approved waste containers in a shielded storage area on site as intermediate level waste before they are packaged for interim storage. The work will also remove and cut up an additional 20 tonnes of pond furniture, which is classes as low level waste, before being disposed at the Low Level Waste Repository in West Cumbria. John Clarke, NDA Chief Executive, said the authority encourages its contractors to adopt the highest standards of safety, security and environmental responsibility, adding “This work by Magnox Ltd shows that they are making real progress in clearing the ponds at Dungeness, in a way that is not only safe for the environment, but is also saving time and money.”
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supply chain to exploit their own capabilities and innovations to win work. The Nuclear AMRC is well positioned to lead the programme forward, having demonstrated its capability integrating advanced manufacturing techniques to the current 3m3 box design for Sellafield, improving manufacturability of Nuvia’s Novapak container and supporting the design of the new Standard Waste Transport Container with Radioactive Waste Management and International Nuclear Services. The waste container integrated innovation team (IIT) is one of a series of collaborations assembled by Sellafield Ltd as part of its Technical Innovation Plan. The new approach forms part of a wide-reaching cultural change at Sellafield as the site moves from reprocessing operations into full decommissioning, with nine IITs covering areas from waste characterisation to longterm care and maintenance.
Dungeness dives in
Sellafield and INS complete delivery of waste from the UK to Switzerland A consignment of Highly Active Waste (HAW) has been safely delivered from Sellafield to Switzerland for the Swiss electric utilities AXPO AG and BKW Energie. The second and final shipment of vitrified residues was completed in October. A total of four flasks, each containing 28 containers of the HAW was transported via the port of Cherbourg, France, then onwards by rail to the Zwilag storage facility in Switzerland. The HAW results from the reprocessing and recycling of spent nuclear fuel, which had previously been used to produce electricity by the utilities is Switzerland. This shipment is part of the Vitrified Residue Returns programme. This a partnership between Sellafield Ltd and International Nuclear Services and is a key component of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority strategy to repatriate highly active waste from the UK.
WIN UK announce Adriènne Kelbie as its first Patron
Women in Nuclear UK (WiN UK) has appointed Adriènne Kelbie, Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation as its first Patron. WiN UK's mission is to address the industry's gender balance, improve the representation of women in leadership and to engage with the public on nuclear issues. The role of Patron means Adriènne Kelbie advocating WiN UK’s activities and working with Government and industry to support on specific topics to raise the profile of WiN UK. Commenting on her appointment, Adriènne Kelbie, Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said, “As a leader, I focus most of my time in helping get the best out of excellent people and teams. I feel passionately that the best teams bring diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experience. So it is a great pity that, in the nuclear sector, women make up only 22% of the workforce. And it's even fewer at Board and senior level. “This is a great waste of talent in a sector facing growth and severe skills shortages, which a more diverse workforce could tangibly address. So I'm pleased to be able to work with WiN to increase the profile of this important matter.”
New build youthful outlook
EDF Energy and Horizon have announced they will attract more apprentices. This is aligned with the Government announcement to see three million new apprentices begin their careers across the UK by 2020. During the construction of Hinkley Point C, it is estimated the project will create 1,000 apprenticeships. Split in to two, an apprenticeship with EDF Energy begins at their training base in HMS Sultan near Portsmouth followed by two years at sites across the UK, where apprentices gain on the job training. Since 2008, 484 apprentices have entered the four year course and 232 now have full time positions within the company. This October marked Horizon Nuclear Power’s first-ever intake of apprentices to help support the company’s new build project on Anglesey. The team of 10 apprentices have all been recruited from the local area and will be based at a new Horizon-funded workshop on Coleg Menai’s Bangor campus. Greg Evans, Safety and Generation Director at Horizon, said: “We’re very proud of our first intake of apprentices, the first of around 700 apprenticeships that will have been created by the time Wylfa Newydd begins operating.” NuGen launched its Bright Sparks educational programme earlier this year to create a strong link between the company and schools close to the Moorside site in Cumbria. The initiative focusses on low-carbon electricity production including nuclear energy, and includes visits to power stations, mentoring and delivering materials additional the national curriculum to build key skills. The developer is also working closely with the Gen2 Skills Academy in Cumbia to develop apprentices.
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BY. REBECCA THORINGTON
oogle usually has the answer for everything. If you type “what is nuclear?”, the following options appear: “what is nuclear energy?”, “what is a nuclear power plant” and “when did we start using nuclear energy”. Whilst these are all valid questions, if you click on these links you won’t get the whole nuclear answer. In fact there are a huge range of nuclear technologies beyond the obvious energy one that are key to our day-to-day life. It may be surprising to many but more than 80% of countries which have radioactive material do not use it for nuclear power generation. Perhaps the most well-known uses of radioactive materials is for medical applications. It is estimated that over 40 million nuclear medical examinations are performed each year and the global radiopharmaceutical market was estimated at $9.61 billion in 2015 and is expected to rise to $17.28 billion by the end of 2020. Nuclear medicine was first developed over 60 years ago as a diagnostic technique technique using an isotope of iodine-131 to diagnose and treat thyroid disease, and since then up to 200 radioisotopes have been developed and are used in common medical procedures. Today it has become key in a number of applications such as radiotherapy to treat cancers, sterilisation of medical products, x-rays to produce images of the body and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning. Nuclear techniques are critical for the early detection, diagnosis, treatment and
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care of cancer. In 2012 there were 14.1 million new cases of cancer globally and half of the treatment involved the use of radiation therapy. The International Atomic Energy Agency has established a Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy. This is a network of organisations worldwide to deliver greater access to cancer related health technologies safely whilst building skills and knowledge. A common household item that contains radioactive material is a smoke detector, which uses the radioisotope americium-241 to detect the presence of smoke or heat sources. However the industrial applications of radioactive materials is not limited to just this. Radioisotopes can be used to detect and analyse pollutants as well as acting as industrial tracers to check the performance of equipment and improving its efficiency - increasingly important in a world striving to save energy and maximise the use of precious resources. One of the more unusual applications is the use of the decaying energy of plutonium-238 to power the US space vehicles. Alarmingly, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates one in nine people are chronically hungry. Nuclear technologies have often provided unique solutions to help fight hunger and improve environmental sustainability globally. Gamma radiation is used to develop varieties of hardier, more diseaseresistant crops to tackle world hunger. Through this technique more than
3,000 varieties of 170 different plant species have been released by the FAO and IAEA, including drought-resistant wheat for Kenya’s dry lands and ‘hardy barley’ for the Peruvian Andes. Insects and pests account for loss of up to 10% of global harvests. To combat this a method called sterilisation insect technique is used. Gamma radiation is used to sterilise the male insects. This stops the production any offspring and drastically reduces the population of the insect pest allowing a greater crop yield. In 2016 this irradiation technique was also utilised to prevent the spread the Zika epidemic in Brazil which was linked to thousands of birth defects. Moreover 25% of the food harvested worldwide is lost as result of spoilage by microbes and pests. To combat this, 40 countries, including the UK, have approved the use of irradiation to preserve more than 60 food types. To be clear, of course the irradiation of food does not make it radioactive, instead the gamma radiation simply kills the bacteria and harmful organisms without having any effect on the food itself. So Google you were almost there, but the answer is actually much broader than just nuclear power. There are innovative and often surprising uses of radiation and radioactive materials. These applications not only play an increasingly important role in tackling important global issues but have become a necessity for many of our everyday lives beyond just f licking on the light switch.
Decommissioning in Oxford BY. PETER O'BREIN / NATIONAL NUCLEAR LABORATORY
ver the years, the NIA’s Business Group meetings have become a must attend programme of events for NIA members, and the latest Decommissioning and Existing Operations Group meeting showed why. One of six groups, these meetings are a great opportunity for members of the industry to get together, hear updates, network, discuss areas of common interest and identify opportunities of work. Each event is hosted by an NIA member, and this time the main sponsor was Oxford Technologies Limited, a company which specialises in full life-cycle remote handling systems, complex plant assembly, and radiation-hardened systems. As part of the event, Oxford Technologies led a series of technical tours for delegates round their facility. The company showcased its remote handling equipment designed to operate inside nuclear and hazardous facilities, and the products on display demonstrated quite remarkable dexterity and simplicity. Although despite this, several members of the touring party who had the opportunity to operate the Dexter manipulator did so with varying degrees of skill. With Brexit advertised as a way of opening up the UK beyond Europe and out to the rest of the world, there is a strong appetite for business to seek out overseas opportunities amidst the uncertainty and the meeting focused on international decommissioning markets. The UK’s nuclear industry, especially in the decommissioning sector, has been working all over the world for years, using the experience and expertise developed at Sellafield and across the rest of the NDA Estate but there are untapped markets and new opportunities. At the event speakers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and the United States addressed the group. Representing a cross-section of companies from across the industry and supply chain in those countries, it was fascinating to hear updates which helpfully allowed businesses in the room to scope out opportunities. The National Nuclear Laboratory is looking to play an ever increasing role in the global nuclear industry, promoting excellence in our programmes of work, people and facilities. The NIA is an important part of this growing ambition and sharing experience with and learning from colleagues at the Business Groups is accelerating that work.
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PowerPolitics “GOVERNMENT WILL NEED TO BE MORE EXPLICIT IF INVESTOR CONFIDENCE IS TO BE MAINTAINED”
or my last column I was able to reflect on one of the biggest political earthquakes for a generation – the UK’s decision to leave the EU. This time, two months on, there is nothing remotely comparable in UK politics (although it’s a different story in the US!). But with the High Court chucking out the Government’s argument they have the power to leave the EU without consulting Parliament – this could easily change, particularly if it leads to a constitutional crisis. Watch this space! In fact the UK’s political highlight of the autumn has been the party conferences. Following the referendum and Labour’s internal travails, Theresa May used her leader’s speech to make an appeal to the centre ground, talking for example of putting workers on company boards. However she cleverly balanced this by including sufficient right-wingery to keep activists on board – and potentially to lure wavering UKIP voters. Current opinion polls suggest this may well be working. In terms of Brexit she announced Article 50 would be tabled at the end of March 2017, which means the UK will leave the EU by the summer of 2019. A Great Repeal Bill (repealing the European Communities Act 1972) will be included in the next Queen’s Speech, and will come into force the day the UK leaves the EU. This will end the primacy of EU law in the UK by incorporating all EU legislation into UK law, after which the Government will then decide which parts to keep, change or retain. With regard to the forthcoming withdrawal negotiations, May maintained the now standard Government line that
there would be no running commentary – although some might say any commentary at all would be helpful. Based on our own discussions with officials on nuclear we believe Government is carefully thinking through the issues. However given the potential implications of the different options for industry, Government will need to be more explicit if investor confidence is to be maintained in the intervening two years. Brexit apart Theresa May reemphasised the importance Government is attaching to its industrial strategy. Again there was little detail, although the Department has since promised to publish a discussion paper around the time of the Autumn Statement (late November), to allow a Government response in the New Year. The NIA sees nuclear as a driving force for this strategy and has therefore been very supportive. We shall be feeding into the process both through upcoming consultations and directly with ministers. However we shall also be making a broader point: strategies can be full of good intentions, but what really matters is whether they are carried through. We need to know how what action Government will take to ensure it is delivered. The obvious highlight of the Labour conference was the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader, with an increased mandate. Following last summer’s failed coup we now have a largely new shadow cabinet, with Clive Lewis MP moved from Defence to Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Barry Gardiner – who was at that point leading for energy and climate
change – told conference a new ‘Repowering Britain’ programme that would ban fracking and include an increased focus on localisation. This is unlikely however to lead to any change in the Party’s long term support for civil nuclear. Importantly it reconfirmed the Party’s support for nuclear as part of a low carbon energy mix, working alongside renewables. The news from the Liberal Democrat’s was less cheery, with the conference opposing Hinkley Point C on value for money grounds. The debate would probably have been different if Ed Davey was still Energy Secretary. Their Lead Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change, Lynne Featherstone has since told us they are reviewing their energy policy over the next year, looking at “what is required for a zero carbon Briton by 2050” and “whether this can be accomplished with nuclear or without nuclear”. It is unclear whether industry will get a chance to contribute, but if so we would very much like to do so. Perhaps I should conclude with some good news. Contrary to suggestions of its imminent demise, the Chancellor has announced the National Infrastructure Commission will become an Executive Agency of HMT from January 2017. Given how often large scale projects are affected by the political life cycle – think third runways – this is clearly helpful. PETER HASLAM Head of Policy, NIA firstname.lastname@example.org
2016 | WINTER — 29
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