NuGen chief executive Sandy Rupprecht discussed a potential “nuclear skills gap” with senior Conservative and Labour front-benchers during a successful party conference season.
The man leading the development of Europe’s largest new nuclear build project, at Moorside, West Cumbria, joined Labour’s shadow energy minister, Tom Greatrex, and Government energy minister Matt Hancock for high-level debates and discussions on the economic benefits of new nuclear build.
A packed audience at the Labour Party debate heard Moorside (to the north and west of Sellafield), could become the biggest nuclear power station in Britain, supplying 7% of the nation’s electricity for generations to come.
NuGen plan to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors on the 200-hectare site. The project could see between 14,000-21,000 jobs created over the lifetime of the project, with more than 5,000 required on-site to build the plant, due to be completed by 2026.
Mr. Rupprecht said Moorside was “an outstanding opportunity for Britain.”
“Our project will be a major boost for Britain, for the North-West of England, and particularly for West Cumbria.”
“West Cumbria is the UK’s nuclear heartland. It leads the way in innovation, nuclear culture, and highly-skilled, motivated nuclear workforces. But we will need many more thousands of new skilled workers in the industry to realise all our opportunities.”
Unions have urged industry and government to do more to ensure a pipeline of new nuclear workers enter the industry.
“It could be that new build developers, and other sectors of the nuclear industry, will need thousands of skilled workers, all at the same time. We must collaborate to prepare for that,” added Mr. Rupprecht.
And he told energy minister Matt Hancock he had confidence that a “public/private partnership” would respond to the demand signal of new nuclear developments.
“I am confident that the frameworks being put in place now by industry, government and the skills sector in the UK will help us to meet our needs.”
“The political and industrial leadership and collaboration, through the Nuclear Industry Council, through our trade association, and by Cogent and the Nuclear Skills Academy, is helping to focus on strategies to deliver our workforce of the future.”
NuGen announced a change in ownership in June, with Toshiba partnering GDF Suez in the joint venture. The company is powering forward and has re-started assessment work on the 200-hectare site aimed at giving technical experts in-depth feedback on the land’s key characteristics.