£16 million Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is to invest £4.4 million towards the establishment of a £16 million centre that will support the growth of the region’s nuclear energy industry and position the Northwest as a region of global nuclear capability.

The investment was announced today by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson at a major press conference in Westminster, which focused on the economic changes brought about across the English regions by the New Industry, New Jobs agenda and the Regional Development Agencies. 

The Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology (C-NET) at the University of Manchester, which is also investing £3.5 million in the scheme, aims to increase the capability of the university sector to collaborate with industry.  It will also support industrial Research &Development in the nuclear sector’s reactor technology market through collaborative international research, education and skills development.

Once C-NET has been established, the long-term aim is to secure additional private sector investment to grow the centre to £25 million. An additional £2.61 million will be invested by the private sector with further private sector investment being sought.  The establishment of C-NET is conservatively estimated to contribute £20 million to the Northwest economy over 10 years, excluding firm productivity benefits, as well as creating 22 new jobs.

Robert Hough, Chairman of the NWDA, said:

“Estimated to generate over £20 billion worth of new business opportunities, the Government’s announcement of a UK nuclear new build programme has the potential to create a wealth of new opportunities for the sector’s growth in the Northwest.

However, there is fierce competition across the UK to secure major proportions of this programme and it is vital that we ensure the Northwest is in the strongest position possible to benefit.

Our investment in C-NET, which supports the delivery of the Northwest Science Strategy, will help to ensure that the region is equipped with the research and development capability, technology and skills needed to capitalise on this key growth sector.”

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean, Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester, said:

“The University of Manchester is delighted that the NWDA is joining us in investing in the Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology, reinforcing our commitment to deliver research and development, education, and knowledge transfer in the nuclear sector. The combined resources of the University and the NWDA in supporting this major project will benefit the Northwest region considerably and add greatly to its economic growth.”

Welcoming the announcement, Phil Woolas, Minister for the North West, said:
“Nuclear power provides reliable, cost-effective and low carbon energy and will play a vital role, alongside renewable and clean coal, in a secure energy mix for the future.  Four out of the ten sites identified by the Government as potentially suitable for new nuclear energy plants are in the North West so it is vital that our region has the best skills and technology available to ensure that we make the most of this once in a generation opportunity. The development of the new Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology at Manchester University will help us do just that.”

The C-NET vision is to be recognised as a leading centre for reactor technology in the UK, contributing to the global renaissance in nuclear energy. It will focus on providing industrial R&D support and contribute to academic thinking in four key market areas:

• New nuclear build: supporting the deployment and operational performance of UK new nuclear build systems
• Naval propulsion: supporting the R&D requirements of next generation systems
• Support to existing reactors: providing R&D support to extend the life time of existing plants
• International advanced reactor development: collaborative international research future reactor systems