2016 'a momentous year for UK nuclear sector' - Industry Association Chairman
Dods Monitoring's Rob Micklewright reviews the Nuclear Industry Association's annual conference with speeches from key stakeholders including the Energy Minister.
The Nuclear Industry Association’s annual nuclear conference in London began with the organisation's chairman Lord Hutton calling 2016 a momentous year for UK nuclear. He said the Hinkley decision was a huge vote of confidence in an industry that was “first and foremost about people and skills”.
Giving the keynote speech Energy Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe agreed with Lord Hutton that 2016 had been a “pivotal” year for the UK nuclear industry and suggested the go ahead for EDF’s Hinkley Point would trigger a nuclear renaissance in the country.
Neville-Rolfe highlighted the crossover between the work of the nuclear industry and the Government’s view of an industrial strategy focused on supply chain and export opportunities, skills development and benefits to local economies.
To that end she announced that future new nuclear developers would be required to publish supply chain plans showing the benefits of the projects to the UK supply chain. She also explained the Nuclear Industry Council – a forum between industry and Government would be reformed in early 2017 and take a more strategic approach to such issues.
After the minister the conference heard contributions from several major players in the UK’s nuclear new build programme: Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director at EDF, Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of Horizon Nuclear Power and Tom Samson, chief executive of NuGeneration.
All three were keen to highlight the positive benefits of nuclear projects on local communities and economies, and skills development.
Cadoux-Hudson discussed how the Hinkley project chimed with the Government’s view of an industrial strategy whilst also talking up nuclear’s contribution to tackling climate change. He also stressed that their experience with Hinkley would hopefully lead to a smother process for developments at the Sizewell and Bradwell sites.
Hawthorne focussed on the challenges of financing a new build project when Horizon had no existing revenue stream (unlike EDF) and no state backing as in China, Russia or the Middle East. However he felt the proven capability of their reactor should provide assurances to investors.
He also touched on the importance of the industry having a single, cohesive message about the benefits of nuclear in order to navigate through a constantly changing political environment.
Tom Samson intrigued the conference floor when he suggested NuGen were looking for £20bn worth of finance for the Moorside project. He said they were in conversation with many potential partners and did not rule out a level of Government equity funding in the project.
He also discussed the importance of improving the local Cumbrian infrastructure to support the development of the project.
The conference also saw an interesting panel discussion on the perspective of UK nuclear from people outside of the industry. Deputy chief executive at Renewable UK said energy was too important to be politicised between different technologies and both industries needed to have a common message for a long term strategy.
Fiona Reilly from Atlantic SuperConnection echoed the sentiments of the new build developers and said the industry needed to educate the public and promote the benefits of the nuclear industry. Jerome Brassat, CreditSuisse said the finance world saw nuclear as a complex sector which nevertheless was an attractive proposition for investors due its long operating life.