New research boost for nuclear suppliers

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Sheffield and Manchester Universities are spearheading a £4 million project to help UK firms play an increasing role in the civil nuclear industry.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing programme – NNUMAN – aims to develop new manufacturing processes that enable British firms to out-compete foreign rivals and train a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers.

Professor Keith Ridgway, programme director of the South Yorkshire-based Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, said: “This funding will help us to look at the longer term manufacturing research needs of the nuclear industry.”

News of the investment came as the Nuclear AMRC hosted a meeting showcasing the results of nuclear research and development feasibility studies funded by the UK’s national innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.

It also came shortly before German energy companies E.ON and RWE announced they were scrapping plans to build nuclear reactors in the UK.

Although that decision has been described as a setback for Britain’s nuclear plans, the Nuclear AMRC remains optimistic about future prospects for UK firms to benefit from a new wave of civil nuclear plant construction.

Steve Court, operations director of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “The decision by E.ON and RWE is disappointing, but they’ve made it clear that it’s a financial decision rather than a technical issue or a judgement on the prospects for nuclear power in the UK.

“The other developers, including EDF Energy, are still progressing with their own plans and are actively engaging with UK manufacturers and suppliers.”