Everything you need to know about Cumbria’s new nuclear projects
COMMUNITIES across the UK are vying for the chance to host state-of-the-art new nuclear reactors, which produce low-carbon energy and potentially create hundreds of jobs.
The UK government has already pledged to fund the development of one type of new nuclear development at Sizewell, with ambitions to roll out more across the country.
Here’s everything you need to know about Cumbria’s role in this new industrial revolution.
Jet engine giant Rolls Royce is behind small modular reactor (SMR) projects across the country.
Reactors are the most practical form of power generation as they are developed in modules and individually transported to site.
Hailed as “the next generation of low-cost, low-carbon nuclear power technology”, they are at the heart of ambitions to reduce harmful carbon emissions while meeting energy needs.
And SMR technology could be configured for Cumbria.
Following efforts by local and national leaders, Rolls Royce signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, pledging to support efforts to bring an SMR to Fellside, south of Sellafield.
Copeland Council portfolio holder for nuclear and commercial services, David Moore, told advisers in July: “There is now a real commitment within the NDA and Sellafield that they want to integrate the SMR.
“I think it’s really raised the profile that we have because now we have, not only development, but we have a customer.”
Land in Kingmoor Park in Carlisle has been shortlisted for a Rolls Royce factory.
If Carlisle’s bid is successful, the plant will produce the modules for the small modular reactors – may the above ambitions of bringing one to Copeland be successful.
It could mean a boost for the nuclear supply chain and the companies in Cumbria that contribute to it, such as Forth Engineering in Maryport.
Cumbria would become an exporter of the parts needed to build SMRs, which could benefit the county’s bid to develop one near Sellafield – subject to government investment.
Another NDA-owned site neighboring Sellafield may be lined up for industrial development.
Moorside, a stone’s throw from Fellside, is in the running for a prototype nuclear fusion reactor.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority is holding a competition to find a UK home for the STEP Tokamak nuclear fusion reactor and Moorside has reached the shortlist of five potential sites.
Fusion is an emerging method, which means West Cumbria could play an important role in its development as a viable and reliable form of energy.
Although its commercial uses have yet to be demonstrated, fusion power recently made a major breakthrough when South Korean scientists sustained the nuclear reaction for 30 seconds above 100 million degrees Celsius, seven times hotter than the Sun.
Stephen Hawking said that if it could be harnessed, fusion power would “provide an inexhaustible supply of energy, without pollution or global warming.”
Cleanup operations at the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning site are slowing, which will mean a possible reduction in jobs at the site.
In response, Copeland Council launched the Industrial Solutions Hub, a project designed to retain and develop the unique nuclear and clean energy skills on offer in Cumbria.
The project will revolve around a business park that will be developed at Leconfield Industrial Estate.
Companies operating in the business park could train the next generation of nuclear professionals working on the exciting developments planned for Cumbria.