North Wales and the North West of England are the key areas for the development of nuclear research and engineering in the UK, according to a UK Government commissioned Audit report published earlier this month.
The report shows that nowhere else in Europe has such a concentration of nuclear expertise, with unparalleled access to a world-renowned skills base and pioneering expertise in nuclear research and development.
Known as the ‘North West Nuclear Arc’, the area of north Wales and North West England is one of few regions in the world with a nuclear industry covering the full life-cycle, and with the organisations and expertise to address many of the challenges identified in securing secure clean energy.
The report shows that there are over 20 facilities providing research support to academic and industrial activity in the region including university laboratories, the National Nuclear Users Facilities (NNUF), National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), private facilities and public-private partnerships.
There are currently over 235 companies in the nuclear industry in the area contributing over £5bn to the UK economy, and the area has unparalleled access to a world-renowned skills base and pioneering expertise in nuclear research and development.
However, the Nuclear Workforce Assessment predicts there could be shortage of up to 40,000 workers by 2036.
To address the workforce issues, the North West Nuclear Arc uniquely houses 15 nuclear skills providers, both Higher Education and Further Education, which can provide specialist training across the full range of skill levels, and already has Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) programmes which can support the development of future experts.
The report is one of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s ‘Science and Innovation Audits’ which analyses regional strengths and identifies mechanisms to realise their potential.
The consortium that developed the report initially comprised of Bangor University, Welsh Government, the Dalton Nuclear Institute (University of Manchester) and the National Nuclear Laboratory.
The focus of the Audit was on the strengths and capabilities of civil nuclear energy, in NW England and North Wales, with an easterly extension to take in Sheffield and Leeds.
Dame Sue Ion, who provided the foreword for the Audit, said: “It highlights the globally significant science and innovation assets in the area, with world-class research facilities and internationally renowned organisations, and identifies the major economic contribution the nuclear industry makes.”
The consortium’s vision is that it is possible to re-engineer the nuclear sector to obtain a 30% reduction in cost and time without compromising safety and security, and that the NWNA is uniquely positioned to maximise the opportunity for the UK.
Professor Sian Hope OBE from Bangor University who was the lead on the North West Nuclear Arc Audit comments: “This is the only area in the UK with such a broad range of capabilities, with all elements of the civil nuclear fuel cycle, including decommissioning and clean up, uranium enrichment, fuel fabrication, operating reactors and it is also major area for First of a Kind (FOAK) small and advanced modular reactors.”
“It has a powerful industrial presence in the region, alongside strong universities, colleges and research organisations, working in close and productive partnerships which can help deliver significant results for the regional and UK economy.”
Bangor University has been involved in three Science and Innovation Audits which reflects the world-class research and innovation activity which is being carried out at the university and is well placed to contribute to the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.
The three Audits involving Bangor are:
– North West Nuclear Arc Consortium (led by Bangor University with support from Welsh Government, The Dalton Nuclear Institute, NNL and North West England LEPs)
– North West Coastal Arc Partnership for Clean and Sustainable Growth (led by Lancaster University with support from North West England LEPs and the Welsh Government)
– The South Wales Crucible (led by Swansea University)
The University’s commitment to deploying its R&D capability to support regional economic development is further evidenced by its key role in the £240m North Wales Growth Deal to be funded by the Welsh and UK Governments and led by the six Unitary Authorities in North Wales.