French nuclear power plant and services provider, Areva, has formed partnerships with Balfour Beatty and Rolls-Royce that will see the first new nuclear reactors built in the UK for more than 20 years.
The two UK companies will work with Areva on the development of supply chains, manufacturing and engineering services.
Site construction of the first EPR Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) could start as early as 2013.
The announcement is underpinned by E.On’s announcement that it is creating a joint UK-based team with staff from Areva and Siemens with the intention of taking forward the development of at least two EPRs in the UK.
It is further underpinned by Areva’s partnership with French energy giant EDF, which will involve the companies submitting information on their reactor designs to the British Nuclear Regulators, who will assess them before a full application can be made to build a nuclear power station at a particular site.
In a separate development, Balfour Beatty has also formed a joint venture with Vinci Construction to help deliver project management, construction and civil engineering infrastructure for the EPR programme.
Mike O’Brien, minister of state for energy and climate change, said: ‘This is good news for British manufacturing and engineering.
‘The [Areva] partnership with two of our biggest companies, Rolls-Royce and Balfour Beatty, will provide up to 15,000 British manufacturing and construction jobs for 25 years.’
The civil nuclear market is currently worth around £30bn a year globally and is expected to grow to £50bn a year in 15 years’ time, more than 70 per cent of which will relate to the build and support of new facilities.
It is estimated that the nuclear programme in the UK will sustain 10,000-15,000 jobs over 25 years, of which 45 per cent will be engineers.