Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has announced a package of measures to strengthen the UK’s civil nuclear supply chain, at the centre of which is an offer of a £80 million loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. The loan offer, together with participation in the project from Westinghouse, the nuclear power company, will enable Sheffield Forgemasters to build a major new manufacturing facility for ultra heavy forgings for civil nuclear power and other markets.
This will make the company the second only in the world with necessary nuclear accreditation able to make the very largest forgings required to make the critical components required for the global civil nuclear industry.
The offer follows last year’s announcement of a Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in south Yorkshire, which will help UK civil nuclear manufactures develop world class manufacturing techniques and cost competitiveness, plus the creation of a Low Carbon Economic Area in civil nuclear in the North West and Yorkshire region. Together these will create an international region of excellence in the civil nuclear supply chain. Currently the UK is able to supply around 50 per cent of the plant and equipment for a new nuclear programme in the UK but with investment this could increase to 70 per cent.
The offer will enable Sheffield Forgemasters to build a 15,000 tonne press and finishing facility which can produce the ultra-large forgings such as reactor pressure vessels that are integral to modern civil nuclear reactors. Currently these can only be produced in Japan for the global market. This will create around 180 direct highly skilled jobs in the long term and many more during the construction phase. Significantly as the largest parts required by the civil nuclear industry can be purchased from the UK following this offer of a loan, the rest of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry also stands to gain as the global nuclear reactor design companies will start to look to the UK to purchase the other components for nuclear new build and re-fit for build in Europe and beyond. This stands, says the government, to create thousands more jobs in the wider UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry.
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