- Midlands is the UK’s fastest growing region in terms of nuclear investment
- Thousands of jobs to be created by development of fusion industry in Nottinghamshire
- Region stands to be at the heart of future nuclear technologies
A new report from the Midlands Engine has called for a co-ordinated regional effort to capitalise on booming investment into the Midlands nuclear sector.
The report has been authored with the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and is published today to coincide with Nuclear Week in Parliament. It calls for action for the region to seize on major opportunities granted by a national commitment to increase the UK’s nuclear power supply fivefold, and capitalise on the benefits of next-generation nuclear technology.
To this end, the Midlands Engine Partnership is encouraging regional organisations to collaborate with local and national government to advance seven clear recommendations aimed at bolstering the region’s nuclear and related industries capacity. These include supporting regional bids for nuclear manufacturing sites, establishing a Midlands nuclear consortium, and a focus on new technologies such as fusion and small modular reactors. Underpinning these is a commitment to pan-regional collaboration in advancing projects throughout the nuclear supply chain.
In promoting regional nuclear, the report aims to stimulate investment in industries capable of contributing to the provision of cheap, low-carbon, domestic energy – crucial to ensuring the UK’s long-term energy security and climate goals, while lowering bills for consumers.
The deep dive into the region’s nuclear and related industries potential follows a swathe of recent success stories, including the historic decision to site a prototype fusion power station on the site of a former coal-fired power plant in West Burton, Nottinghamshire. The project aims to produce a commercially viable fusion prototype by 2040 and has the potential to usher in a new wave of safe, sustainable, low carbon energy for generations to come.
The Midlands Engine Partnership report also points to a rapidly growing regional investment base, with investment in nuclear related sectors in the Midlands growing 23% between 2017/18 and 2019/20 to £2.5bn. Over the same period, the report found regional growth in the sector was 29%, compared to just 2.9% nationally.
Coupled with an increasing number of regional organisations working across the nuclear supply chain, including Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactor programme, The National Centre for Nuclear Robotics, and firms such as Cavendish Nuclear and Goodwin International, the report highlights the region’s immense potential to provide the technology and manufacturing base needed to spearhead the UK’s nuclear revival.
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:
“This is a hugely exciting time for the nuclear industry, and the Midlands has everything in its arsenal to develop into a nuclear powerhouse.
“Communities up and down the country are feeling the benefits of having a vibrant nuclear sector; well paid, skilled jobs, which help keep the lights on and protect the planet.”
Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership, said:
“As the nuclear energy sector enters a period of substantial growth, the Midlands is well placed to develop and benefit from the advancement of this critical industry. By improving our region’s nuclear capacity, we open ourselves to economic advancement, and provide the Midlands with a proven, cheap, low carbon domestic energy source.
“Our region has long provided the technological expertise and industrial capacity required to power the UK via alternative methods of generation, so it is fantastic to see this Midlands Engine Partnership report from set out clear, achievable targets to ensure we also gain maximum benefit from nuclear.”
Faye McAnulla, Programme Director at the Energy Research Accelerator, said:
“From specialist machinery to the safe disposal of waste, this report sets out how our region can capitalise on the economic and net zero advantages of nuclear.
“The research and manufacturing expertise found across the Midlands makes it the perfect site for the expansion of the UK’s nuclear capacity, and we look forward at ERA to working with organisations across the region and the wider UK to further develop new nuclear technologies, and ensure we make the most of our existing capabilities.”