31 Jan 14

EDF Energy acts to strengthen the capability of the UK’s nuclear industry

EDF Energy is launching a series of joint initiatives to boost the UK’s ability to support, supply and benefit from its growing civil nuclear industry.


These include steps to expand research and development in nuclear power and co-operation between France and Britain to help small and medium enterprises win nuclear contracts in the UK and around the world. These agreements will ensure that Britain benefits as fully as possible from the massive investments being made in new nuclear power.


The initiatives were announced in a joint communiqué on nuclear energy from Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande at the Franco-British summit in Oxfordshire today. It restated the crucial role of nuclear power to both countries and underlined the importance of creating a skilled workforce to the development of nuclear industries in Britain and France.


In addition to inter-governmental agreements announced today, EDF Energy announced its participation in three key initiatives:


- EDF Energy will sponsor a new Franco-British partnership to bring new small, medium enterprises to the new nuclear supply chain. The collaboration between the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association SME Partnership and the French Partenariat France Monde Électricité (PFME)[1] will help UK businesses get the support and experience they need to bid for and win nuclear contracts

- EDF Energy will expand its partnership with Imperial College London and its collaboration with the National Nuclear Laboratory to include research, education and training for nuclear energy and in particular the new build programme

- EDF Energy will support the development of a South West Nuclear Research Hub in partnership with The University of Bristol

EDF Energy’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “France and Britain have much to gain by sharing their strength and experience to boost the capability of their nuclear industries at home and around the world. That will be underpinned by their in-depth and growing expertise in nuclear research and development.


“Experience in France also shows that small and medium enterprises can win global nuclear business by working together. EDF is confident that British businesses can be just as successful, forging new alliances with their French counterparts and increasing the opportunities for all through this partnership.”


Lord Hutton, Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The UK nuclear new build programme, potentially worth up to £60bn, represents a major opportunity for British industry. Like EDF Energy we are keen to see SMEs play the fullest possible role in this, and have set up a special working group to maximise their opportunities.


This important agreement with PFME, which will bring UK SMEs together with their opposite numbers in the French nuclear supply chain, will enable our companies to learn from French nuclear experience. It will also, in the longer term, lead to mutually beneficial partnerships that will help both parties to make the most of their skills in the UK market and, subsequently, overseas."


EDF Group’s work with UK research organisations has also been stepped up with agreements to develop and strengthen research collaborations with the University of Bristol, Imperial College London and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).[2] This is in addition to today’s announcement of co-operation between the NNL and its French counterpart the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA).


Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol: "We welcome this announcement which underlines the importance of the Franco-British partnership, our developing relationship with EDF and our work to support this important sector. The creation of a South-West UK Nuclear Research Hub at Bristol will bring academia and industry together to help to address some of the most pressing global energy supply challenges."


These are significant steps that will enhance Franco-British cooperation in research, development and innovation. They are in addition to existing collaboration with the Universities of Manchester and Strathclyde and with University College London.




[1] The Partenariat France Monde Électricité (PFME) was created with the support of EDF in France to help small and medium enterprises join the nuclear supply chain. It gives these businesses access to nuclear developers and allows them to share experience and information so that they can successfully compete for nuclear contracts.


[2] The new agreements with UK research organisations cover:


- Statement of Intent with The University of Bristol for the development of a South West Nuclear Research Hub

The statement of intent is focused on supporting the safe operation of civil nuclear power generation systems in the UK (existing and future reactors) alongside developing a joint programme of research and education between UK and French academic research institutes.


The outcome of this statement of intent will be research programmes and education activities managed through a new South West Nuclear Research Hub located at the University of Bristol.

- Global Framework Agreement with Imperial College London on Nuclear fission, Electricity Generation & distribution and on end use energy demand

EDF Energy has significant and long term engagement with Imperial College London and the co-operation reaches into many areas of the College. The collaboration covers research, education and training in the fields of nuclear engineering and the varied disciplines related to the generation and distribution of electricity.


The global collaboration is being expanded to support the new nuclear build programme and the new nuclear centre for doctoral training. It will also cover energy management to deal with the impact of intermittent renewable energy on the system, and in end user energy demand, looking at new business models and new technologies.


- Statement of Intent with the National Nuclear Laboratory to develop long term Nuclear research collaboration,


The National Nuclear Laboratory plays a key role in the UK and global nuclear industry, including maintaining critical UK skills and attracting talented new people to the industry.


EDF is keen to strengthen its existing collaboration with NNL and to develop a strategic alliance on R&D to benefit from the scientific excellence of this organisation.


The joint collaboration will underpin areas such as nuclear safety, long term operation of existing reactors, nuclear new build, waste management and decommissioning.