Opinion: Why our energy future relies on nuclear power
With Teesside at the center of a new national energy plan, Cameron Gilmour of the Sizewell C Consortium and David Bond, CEO of Sheffield Forgemasters, discuss a new era of UK reindustrialisation
Industries and businesses across Britain, and particularly in the north of England, have been through tough times over the past two years.
Whether it’s the pandemic, stalled business operations, or our steadily rising cost of living, there are many challenges we all face right now.
The industries we represent – UK nuclear and UK steel – are no different.
One of us writes as CEO of Sheffield Forgemasters, a vital industry woven into the historical, cultural and economic fabric of northern England.
Read more: How many nuclear power stations are there in the UK?
The other on behalf of the Sizewell C Consortium, a body breathing new life into an industry with a proud heritage and which is key to helping the UK achieve net zero – and, more importantly than ever at this time, to consolidate our long-term energy security.
Steel and nuclear have always had links – from working together to deliver the world’s first operational civilian nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the 1950s, to the work underway at Hinkley Point C in Somerset today.
Today, as Britain looks to its future, we want to strengthen those ties. The Government’s recent energy security strategy represented a crucial moment for the nuclear industry, with a commitment to build 24 GW of nuclear capacity by 2050. By ensuring that a fleet of new EPR reactors is built with of British steel, this commitment may not only be for the British. nuclear, but to British steel, British manufacturing, British skills and British people.
Our two industries share the same resilience and optimism about our future role in helping Britain achieve net zero emissions and ensure our energy security. Just as we share the same commitment to creating high-skilled jobs, skills and opportunities that will fuel the clean regional growth we need to achieve virtually across all regions of North England.
This led us to formally join forces. Sheffield Forgemasters has now joined the Sizewell C consortium and hundreds of other companies urging the country to embrace new nuclear.
Sheffield Forgemasters has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sizewell C project itself. The agreement stipulates that Sizewell C, if given the green light, will use Sheffield Forgemasters as a supplier for the project.
Sizewell C is a key step towards the bright UK nuclear future that the government has envisioned in its energy strategy. This partnership and agreement aims to ensure that British steel travels with British nuclear on this journey, towards a future where both industries can thrive.
As the only shovel-ready project, Sizewell C is key to ensuring the continuity of Britain’s nuclear fleet, including for the 70,000 workers currently operating in the supply chain outside of London and the South East. Through this partnership, both industries can help reinvest and rebuild the parts of the country that need it most, ushering in a new generation of jobs and investment.
The announcement builds on Memorandum of Understanding commitments the Sizewell C Consortium has already made in the North of England, including a £2.5bn deal with suppliers.
These benefits then transcend the nuclear industry and extend to the broader clean growth benefits that we are already beginning to see in the region. Many green technologies are facilitated by nuclear power. This includes renewables, as well as clean technologies such as hydrogen and direct air capture, all of which will be needed to meet the UK’s climate targets and commitments to achieve net zero. 2050. By supporting the UK steel industry, we are also helping them on their journey to green steel.
Steel and nuclear can help prepare the ground for a new era of British reindustrialisation; delivering tangible benefits to the entire country. These are jobs and skills, clean growth, and energy and trade security.
This is the future our industries are clamoring for together and the first step is the endorsement of Sizewell C.
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