When Prime Minister David Cameron announced that work is to start on the first of a new generation of nuclear power stations he gave the green light to an investment programme that is worth up to £60 billion.
But the investment in nuclear energy doesn’t end there.
Alongside the new nuclear build, funds will need to be pumped into maintaining Britain’s existing fleet of 16 nuclear reactors, some of which are expected to continue operating until 2050.
And, there is also the job of decommissioning plants as they come to the end of their useful life, which could be worth £3 billion a year.
The potential for businesses across the Sheffield City Region – ranging from hi-tech advanced manufacturers to construction and decommissioning companies – is significant.
Some – like Sheffield Forgemasters and Newburgh Engineering – are already supplying the nuclear sector globally and in the United Kingdom, others, however, have been holding back.
They have been understandably unwilling to invest in achieving the stringent approvals which the nuclear industry demands when there was no guarantee that even one civil nuclear power station would be built in the UK and countries like Germany were spurning nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.
But, the time for standing on the brink has passed, according to Mike Tynan. Mr Tynan is the former chief executive of nuclear plant builder Westinghouse, who earlier this year became chief executive of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, based on South Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe.
“One of the difficulties the industry has faced is that the start date has been pushed back,” Mr Tynan concedes.
“In the first place, we were probably looking to start in 2011 with some of these projects and here we are in 2013,” he added.
“Despite the agreement for Hinkley Point, EDF has still got work to do before it can finalise the investment documents and move forward, so there is still a little way to go.”
That may not be a bad thing as it gives companies that have held back on becoming nuclear time to catch up, says Mr Tynan, adding: “There is time to get ready, but people need to move now.”
The Nuclear AMRC has built up close relationships with EDF and is soon to have senior level meetings with Areva, the designer of the European Pressurised Reactor, which will be installed at Hinkley Point.
It has also developed the Fit4Nuclear programme, which is designed to help companies to demonstrate to the nuclear industry that they have achieved the standards required.