Zoe Stollard, Construction Partner at Clarke Willmott shares her thoughts on the critical role that of nuclear could play in developing the Welsh economy, and looks at innovation in Welsh nuclear.
Support for Welsh Nuclear Business
The Welsh Government has been proactive in supporting nuclear energy as part of its commitment for a greener economy for many years, dating back to the build, operation and decommissioning of Trawsfynydd and Wylfa Newydd power plants.
Over the decades, a strong national and international supply chain has been created and developed which has served the Welsh economy well. If we look at Hinkley Point C (HPC), it was recently reported that 116 businesses from across Wales including Express Reinforcements and Vescco Engineering have won contracts worth £150 million to help build the new nuclear power station in Somerset. In addition, over 1,000 Welsh residents have worked on the project so far, bringing their much-needed skills to the project.
When looking at the wider nuclear opportunities in Wales, the majority are in North Wales. By far the largest project is the proposed £20billion new nuclear power generation facility at Wylfa with an update expected at the end of September. Potentially 20% of the value of contracts could go to Welsh companies along with supporting inward investment opportunities.
The proposed development of Trawsfynydd is significant. Rolls-Royce has identified the site to build one of the first of a new fleet of advanced small modular reactors (SMRs) across the UK. According to Rolls Royce, each SMR would operate for 60 years, providing 440 MW of electricity, which is enough to power Cardiff, Swansea and Newport combined, creating 350 new jobs. Additionally, it could become a medical research reactor development centre, providing a secure and sustainable supply of medical radioisotopes for the UK, creating a further 200 jobs and significant investment.
Innovation in Welsh Nuclear
The nuclear story does not end there and includes exciting and innovative R&D and manufacturing facilities at M-SParc and AMRC Cymru and a potential thermo-hydraulic facility. When combined with collaborating with other UK regions including the North West Nuclear Arc, new builds in Suffolk and Essex, and internationally with strong links being formed in Canada, the future is bright.
The proposed multi-billion-pound nuclear investment in Wales lasting many decades, can help contribute greatly to the Welsh green economy. Clarke Willmott principally through its Cardiff and Bristol offices and its strong reputation supporting the construction of HPC and acting for principal site operation and construction contractors has in recent years actively encouraged more Welsh businesses to seek opportunities in the nuclear sector.
I am delighted that we work closely with the Wales Nuclear Forum (WNF) and South Wales Chamber of Commerce (SWCC). Last year we organised a very well attended tour of HPC in partnership with WNF and SWCC. As an active member of WNF I was pleased to be invited to present on the legal contracting matters at HPC for those considering bidding for contracts. As the firm develops its Green Energy division, I am certain we will become more embedded in helping Welsh businesses realise their commercial and environmental goals.