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France/UK/nuclear industry partnership

Published on February 21, 2012
Franco-British summit/major economic impact of the nuclear industry partnership – Joint statement by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, and David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland¹

Paris, February 17, 2012

Developing our nuclear industries and improving their competitiveness at international level is a priority goal of the strengthened Franco-British nuclear energy partnership. Thanks, in particular, to the dynamism injected by development prospects linked to EDF Energy’s plans to build four EPRs in the United Kingdom with its partner Centrica (Hinkley Point C – 2 EPR then Sizewell C – 2 EPR), and to AREVA’s contribution to the back-end of the fuel cycle in the UK, the industrial partnership between our two countries is taking shape and growing stronger.

For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been at the heart of our economies

France and the UK are two great civil nuclear nations which, for decades, have remained committed to retaining a major nuclear component in their energy mix and have developed top-level industries in the field, generating considerable industrial activity. In our two countries, the history of nuclear energy has followed identical phases of development: considerable investment in R&D (CEA, UKAEA), the gradual connection of reactors to the grid (at the beginning of the 1980s the fleets were of comparable size: 31 reactors each in 1981), the emergence of top-level operators (EDF, British Energy) and, finally, growing cooperation throughout the fuel cycle (AREVA with ex-BNFL and now NDA).

The nuclear energy sector today is a source of significant economic activity

With the strength borne of their rich history and the key industrial projects which punctuate it, France and the UK today jointly possess 76 reactors and – uniquely in Europe – cutting-edge facilities covering the whole fuel cycle (enrichment, fuel production, electricity production, reprocessing/recycling and waste management). In the French economy, it is estimated that the nuclear sector accounts for 410,000 jobs (direct and indirect/spin-off) and 2% of GDP. In the UK – after a decline in activity at the beginning of the 2000s but with a fresh boost by recent successive governments, which have again made nuclear energy a priority – the sector generates some 50,000 jobs.

The Franco-British partnership as a catalyst for activity

Since British Energy was purchased in 2009 by EDF Energy – which therefore now operates 15 of Britain’s 18 reactors – the Franco-British partnership has been growing ever stronger. The government-backed plan for the construction of 16 GW of nuclear production capacity, including the four EPRs announced by EDF Energy and its partner Centrica, is enabling the British nuclear industry to enter a new phase of development, with the hope of thousands of new jobs.

EDF Energy is envisaging the recruitment of another 6,000 employees over the next four years. At the height of construction, each project will mobilize 5,600 people, and in the operational phase 900 employees will be needed at Hinkley Point C and the same number at Sizewell C. The construction of these four EPRs will be one of the biggest projects in Europe, accounting for around £20 billion of investment.

EDF Energy has already spent up to £180 million on the UK supply chain, and Hinkley Point C will inject around £100 million into the local economy in each year of its construction and some £40 million per year during its 60-year operational life. Throughout the construction phase of the first new plant, over 20,000 people are expected to work on-site and thousands more to be employed in the supply chain.

AREVA is of course directly involved in EDF Energy’s projects to build the EPRs – it is playing an active role in establishing their supply chains. Last July AREVA signed an EDF contract to supply forgings for fabrication into the Reactor Pressure Vessel and Steam Generators for Hinkley Point C. This equipment will be at the heart of the new power station planned for Hinkley Point. These forgings will be fabricated at AREVA’s facility in Le Creusot, which employs more than 310 people.

The 24 forgings to be fabricated in anticipation for Hinkley Point C will represent approximately 80,000 working hours. In total, around 100 forgings will be needed for the Hinkley Point C project, requiring approximately 320,000 working hours. These forgings will be fabricated using steel ingots produced by AREVA’s supplier Industeel, which employs 200 people in Le Creusot.

AREVA has already developed other activities in the UK: 60 people are employed in upstream cycle projects (with a turnover of £32 million in 2011), 62 in nuclear instrumentation activities (CANBERRA UK, £14.5 million in 2011), and 90 in nuclear safety and environmental studies (AREVA-RMC, £8 million in 2011). In the back-end of the nuclear cycle, in 2008 AREVA won the major Sellafield Management & Operation Contract together with URS and AMEC in the Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) Consortium, and the Drigg Low-Level Waste Management Contract with the UKNWMP Consortium. In addition AREVA has won Tier 2 contracts at Sellafield, and, following the UK Government’s December 2011 Response to the Plutonium Management Public Consultation, is supporting the NDA in developing the MOX “preferred option” route.

Franco-British summit: details of new industrial cooperation

- EDF-Energy/AREVA

EDF Energy has also today signed a further Memorandum of Understanding with AREVA relating to the delivery of the nuclear steam supply system and all central instrumentation and control systems for the Hinkley Point C project. The MOU confirms the understanding that the contract for this work shall be agreed in time for the project’s financial investment decision before the end of 2012 and sets out the timeframe for completing this negotiation.

- AREVA/Rolls-Royce

An important cooperation agreement has been signed today committing AREVA to contract with Rolls-Royce on new-build projects, in the first instance the EDF Hinkley Point C project, for a minimum supply of £100 million of goods and services for each of the two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point. This will include over £60 million of manufactured components for each reactor, of which £30 million will include parts for the Nuclear Steam Supply System. AREVA also agreed to identify early opportunities for engineering works for Rolls-Royce. Following a Landmark Agreement signed by the Rolls-Royce and AREVA CEOs in March 2011, the two companies will also cooperate on back-end/recycling and international projects.

Rolls-Royce and AREVA recently signed a €250 million contract to supply safety instrumentation and control (I&C) systems to the world’s largest reactor modernization programme for EDF. The systems will be installed in the twenty-strong French fleet of 1300MW nuclear reactors operated by EDF. This fourteen-year I&C modernization project will ensure that the reactor fleet meets all national and international safety and licensing requirements through the deployment of the latest I&C technologies, systems and components provided by Rolls-Royce’s facility in Meylan, France. It is expected that this contract will create a further 100 jobs at the Meylan facility which already employs over 500 people. This I&C modernization project is being carried out as part of the third ten-year planned reactor outages which is being managed for EDF by AREVA.

-  EDF-Energy/Kier BAM

EDF announced that the Kier BAM Joint Venture has been selected as the contractor to undertake the main excavations and backfilling works at the Hinkley Point C project, including the roads and networks. The contract is in excess of £100 million and is the first major construction contract to be awarded on the project. Most of the workers under this contract will be recruited locally to Hinkley Point by Kier BAM, who has been operating in the South-West for a long period.

- Nuclear Assystem Atkins Alliance (“n.triple.a”)

This alliance – which was initially focused on consultancy and engineering services to countries outside France and the UK developing nuclear power – has been extended to apply to the EDF-Energy EPR projects in the UK. Assystem’s knowledge of French codes and relationships with EDF engineers, and Atkins’ knowledge of UK regulations and its relationship with the Office for Nuclear Regulation and EDF Energy, make for a symbiotic joint venture bringing invaluable benefits.

- Investment in skills and UK/France exchange programme
EDF Energy has extended its partnership with Bridgwater College in Somerset and together will establish a World Class Training Centre in the South-West of England, close to the proposed site of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. Building on existing work, this agreement will see EDF Energy invest more than £15 million to address potential skills shortages in the energy sector by delivering professional training, building networks within the nuclear industry and providing a legacy of growth for employees and the local community. A Memorandum of Understanding between EDF Energy and Bridgwater College is signed today. In addition, EDF Energy has appointed BDG Architect +Design as architects for the facility. EDF Energy’s intention is to deliver high quality training interventions that will cover a range of courses from induction, technical and leadership.

In addition the opportunity for employees, students and the local community to mix and share experiences is an essential ingredient to the training centre proposition. In line with EDF’s tradition of significant investment in training, the World Class Training Centre will become part of the flagship facility due to be built in Saclay (France).

Both these training facilities will underpin our strong commitment in developing skills and be an environment for collaboration by bringing people together across business, social and generational boundaries.

In addition EDF’s current nuclear exchange programme between the UK and France is being expanded to support the development of Hinkley Point. This will include hundreds of engineers gaining experience in France, and French expatriates working in the UK on the Hinkley Point project.

AREVA is working closely with the National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN – Board Member), the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Centre (NAMRC – Founder Member), Engineering UK, and leading UK universities such as Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, to develop the vital skills base.

- New joint actions in the fields of safety, security, R&D and training, to support the industrial partnership

Complementing and supporting the increasingly close industrial relations, new partnerships will be strengthened in other areas key to ensuring the long-term use of nuclear power in our two countries:

- Safety and security

The industrial exploitation of nuclear energy cannot be conceived without strict adherence to the most rigorous safety and security standards. Complementing the fruitful partnership already established between our national safety authorities, France and the UK are taking the opportunity presented by this summit to launch two important initiatives:

* France and the UK are in favour of strengthening the international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and have therefore decided to work together under a new joint framework to enhance their own capabilities and strengthen bilateral coordination on nuclear emergency response.

* France and the UK establish a new framework covering their cooperation on exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security. The key objective will be to discuss ways of working, tactics and the techniques used by the police to ensure the security of sites, infrastructure and transport.

- Research and development

R&D is a key sector for strengthening expertise and providing the touch of innovation necessary to maintaining and boosting our companies’ activity. Developing intellectual property and registering patents are essential for guaranteeing our long-term competitiveness.
France and the UK have therefore decided to finalize three Memorandums of Understanding:

* between the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) on the broad theme of nuclear energy;

* between the CEA and, respectively, Rolls-Royce and AMEC, to contribute to the development of the Generation IV reactor prototype ASTRID (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration). The aim of this project is to develop new reactors which optimize the use of resources, improve safety and create less waste.

- Training

Training is crucial to enable nuclear energy to continue being developed. To meet the need of every nuclear power project for highly-qualified staff, high-level training should be developed, as well as international cooperation allowing resources to be optimized by fostering the sharing of experience and best practice. With this in mind, the establishment of a partnership agreement between the Institut International de l’Energie Nucléaire (I2EN) and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN) – key training players whose mission will be, in particular, to guarantee the necessary skills for their national nuclear industries – will help support more effectively the updating of skills in both our countries while gaining from the work already done./.

¹ Source of English text: Elysée website.

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