Friday, 13 November 2009

Contractors urge early involvement on nuclear

Contractors will urge energy companies to engage them early on plans for nuclear new build following the publication of the draft national policy statements for the energy sector, which was described as a “defining moment” in the Government’s £40 billion nuclear programme.
On Monday evening, the Department for Energy and Climate Change unveiled a series of draft policy statements with a clear direction towards a new nuclear programme based around 10 sites, a “massive expansion” in renewables and ambitious moves to introduce clean-coal technology.
The statements were drawn up for use by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission, which will from March decide the fate of a string of major projects. Sources say energy companies had been eagerly awaiting the publication of site names on the energy NPSs “because if your name wasn’t down on the list then it would have been game over”.
Ten out of 11
Ten of the 11 potential nuclear new build sites identified earlier this year were given the green light by the Government, with only EDF’s Dungeness site being rejected on environmental grounds.
Civil Engineering Contractors Association director Rosemary Beales said: “Now that we have the planning reform that is needed, what the industry is really going to be after is an idea as to what they are going to be building and when.
“This is a chance for real innovation, but the energy sector is going to need to engage early to get what it wants.”
Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Keith Parker said energy companies had been trying to keep contractors in the loop, and would be able to increase discussions now there was more certainty of which sites the Government had deemed suitable and why.
EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “This is a defining moment on the road to a low carbon Britain.
“For EDF Energy it means we can prepare to take the next steps in our plan for a multi-billion pound investment in the UK, which is already creating opportunities for the British supply chain.”

EDF has already let 40 contracts for preparatory works – including appointing Jacobs Engineering for site and preliminary assessments at Hinkley Point – and said it had a further 150 contracts in the pipeline for construction work at Hinkley and Sizewell.
Hinkley Point in Somerset is still leading the race to be the first site on which a new nuclear plant will be built in more than 20 years.
Balfour Beatty is understood to have teamed up with Vinci Construction Grands Projets while Kier is working with Bam Nuttall to bid for the job. Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke have also formed a joint venture, while Costain, Carillion, Skanska and Morgan Est have all also shown interest in the £4bn scheme.
EDF Energy will begin formal consultation at Hinkley Point later this month, with the aim of submitting a planning application by next summer.
It said preparations were also well advanced for reactors on its land in Sizewell, Suffolk.
A spokeswoman said: “These sites are our priority for our new nuclear build project and we are progressing with our plans to build twin EPR reactors at each site.”
The RWE npower/E.On UK nuclear joint venture, known as Horizon Nuclear Power, said the draft statements were an “important step” toward the planning and construction of new reactors.
The joint venture, which has bought land at Oldbury-upon-Severn in Gloucestershire and at Wylfa on Anglesey, both named as suitable sites for development, has announced plans to invest more than £15bn in building 6GW of nuclear capacity.
Although a planning application for Oldbury has been scheduled for submission in mid-to-late 2011, E.On said it still could not give any timeline to contractors as to when it would tender for the work.
It did confirm, however, it is in the process of finalising a site report which will be submitted to the IPC within weeks.
A spokeswoman said: “As things progress, there will be more opportunities for people to get involved.”
Opportunity to appeal
Although Dungeness was omitted from the Government’s list as a potential new nuclear site, EDF will have an opportunity to appeal the decision in the consultation.
A spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed to see that Dungeness is not included in the draft NPS but will need to study the reasons for its omission carefully before commenting further.”
Separately, three major banks said on Tuesday they will start offering new loans to onshore wind farm developers this week. The scheme – which will use new finance from RBS, Lloyds TSB and BNP Paribas Fortis – is backed by the Government, which says it could enable £1.4bn of wind farm projects to move to construction over the next three years.

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