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What are the implications of the UK’s nuclear emission targets to engineers?

23 Sep 14 - 2:54PM  | Manufacturing

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For a second time the UK faces a nuclear revolution. Nuclear power has played a vital role in the country’s energy production for the past five decades, since Queen Elizabeth II opened the UK’s first industrial-scale nuclear power station at Calder Hall, Cumbria in 1956. However, with most existing power stations scheduled to be decommissioned by 2023, new legislation and energy supply demands have subsequently catalyst the
rejuvenation of the nuclear sector.  

In order to safeguard the future of energy supply and comply with The Energy Act 2008 and The Climate Change Act 2008 legislation, the energy sector has increased its focus on renewables and the use of low carbon technologies. The Climate Change Act 2008, which has set binding climate change targets, emphasises the vital role nuclear power will play in reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050. The country’s leading energy companies have consequently designed and developed the next generation of low carbon, efficient power stations. These comply with the energy National Policy Statements recognising the approved AP1000 and EPR standard nuclear plant designs.

Major infrastructure plans include constructing a wave of new nuclear power plants. This will provide a range of opportunities for experienced and aspiring engineers to work in a revived and growing sector. A £16bn investment has already been confirmed for the development of one such new power station, made possible through partnerships across industry and government. The project will incorporate the construction of two new reactors that will contribute approximately 7% of the nation’s energy.

Collectively 25,000 job opportunities will be created through the development of the new power plant, with construction alone requiring 5,000 to 6,000 recruits to work on site during the build process. Once completed, the power station will provide 900 full-time jobs and require several generations of engineers to operate the plant during its 60-year life-span, providing new and experienced engineers with life career opportunities.

“The renovation of the UK nuclear industry will require a vast number of new and sector-specific engineers to build and operate the new power plants,” says Scott Mcintee, Energy Team Manager at Jonathan Lee Recruitment. “While it is excellent news that the latest power plants will create a significant amount of jobs, it will be a hugely challenging process for the companies involved to recruit such a wide array of skilled engineers.”  

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