Government ministers have given the go-ahead to a series of new nuclear power plants that are designed to replace those that currently provide 20% of the nation’s electricity. Westinghouse, one of the three vendors involved in setting up the new power-plants, has estimated that the UK’s economy could receive a boost worth around £30 million. In addition, there are likely to be thousands of new energy jobs created as part of the process. With soaring oil and gas prices, waning reserves of fossil fuel and pressure to tackle climate change, the decision to invest in nuclear power looks like a sensible one.
All but one of the UK’s nuclear power-plants is set to be phased out by the year 2023. The government is backing new designs that are expected to reduce carbon-emissions and utilize reserves effectively. However, the planning and construction of a power station takes around 10 years to complete, so the proposed stations will not help the UK to meet its targets for the Kyoto Agreement.
In the light of EDF’s decision to pull out of a deal with British Energy – worth £12.5 million – there is some concern that the reactors proposed will not be built in time to prevent a national energy crisis in the UK. Fears of a potential energy gap between 2016 and 2020, as power stations come off-line and coal reserves run dry, has prompted the powers behind the UK’s nuclear industry to court further investments; applications for new power plants are now more streamlined and easier to grant, according to new regulations.
The UK government’s hope is that another investment company, such as Westinghouse, will take advantage of this stance and begin a further crusade of new-build power plants across the country. This is due to the fact that, although British Energy has the operational expertise to run the new stations, it lacks the financial resources to actually fund their planning and construction. However it seems that investor and vendor interest from overseas is still very high.
As it stands, the UK’s nuclear industry still remains a demanding one. Applicants to fill vacancies for all kinds of nuclear jobs, from ground-floor engineers, gas jobs and research scientists to managerial staff are still being sought. As new technologies go to create better and more efficient power plants, a broader range of jobs and skills will be needed and created.
In addition to the range of jobs created to plan and build plants, more staff will be required away from these localities to deal with the transportation of fuel and waste.
While there may be an economic downturn at present, supplies of uranium are not depleted and this resource is not subject to the price-hikes that oil and gas are currently subject to. The future of the nuclear power industry may be fraught with challenges but, once they have been overcome, the sector looks set to provide the UK with a cheaper, more sustainable and environmentally-friendly form of energy than the fuels that we already use.
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Article Source: Nuclear Industry Set For New Boost