UK multidisciplinary consultant Atkins has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to improve the UK construction industry’s nuclear capabilities and boost its own chances of participating in the UK’s plan to build 10 nuclear power stations.Â
Nuclear AMRC is a partnership of universities and companies set up in 2009 to support work in the civil nuclear sector. It is led by the University of Sheffield, and its industrial partners include Rolls-Royce, Areva, Westinghouse, Sheffield Forgemasters and Tata Steel.Â
Under the agreement the two will work together on nuclear research and development, and on support and training for the UK’s civil nuclear supply chain. Among the research topics that will be covered are small modular and micro reactors, the fuel cycle and waste treatment and management.Â
The agreement is significant because it addresses a perceived lack of nuclear experience in the UK construction industry. The last nuclear power station to be built in the country was Sizewell B in 1995, and this has led to fears that British companies have lost the expertise to compete with overseas firms that have worked continuously on nuclear projects.Â Â
The memorandum was signed by Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, and Chris Ball, Atkins’ managing director for nuclear. It confirms that the two organisations will work together in R&D, the UK’s civil nuclear supply chain development and the provision of effective support to the UK civil nuclear industry.Â
Atkins committed itself to the active support of Nuclear AMRC, including joint reviews of opportunities for UK suppliers in nuclear new build, decommissioning and operations, and will seek opportunities for Nuclear AMRC to add value to Atkins’ commercial work.Â
Tynan commented: "I am delighted to sign a collaboration agreement with Atkins, a successful, experienced and innovative company in the global civil nuclear marketplace. Both of our organisations are committed to excellence in the nuclear industry and are determined to drive a new era of civil nuclear power for the UK. We share a particular interest in the development of the UK civil nuclear supply chain, skills for the future and economic value for the UK through the creation of value in the civil nuclear programme."Â
Ball said: "This is a very exciting time for the nuclear industry in the UK and internationally, and by working closely on pioneering projects with partners like Nuclear AMRC, we’re making a real difference to civil nuclear power in the UK."