Speaking ahead of the SNS2020 conference Julia Pyke, nuclear development director at EDF, said Sizewell C will be accessible to local people and could provide jobs for life.
Hinkley Point C, is Sizewell C’s sister project. The Somerset power station is almost identical in design to Sizewell C – but construction has already started, Ms Pyke said it showed what sort of opportunities Sizewell C could bring to the east coast when construction begins in a few years time.
“One of the things the nuclear industry has really underplayed is that the people who run Hinkley today – they both started out as 16-year-old apprentices," said Ms Pyke.
“And that’s not a rare thing. There aren’t many industries which will take in kids at 16, and then they actually become the managing director of the biggest construction programme in Europe.
“It has this really transformative effect on people’s lives. I think sometimes people can find big projects inaccessible. But we are completely committed to making them accessible.
“We’ve got some brilliant stories from Hinkley of people who started off as a cleaner who’ve actually gone through training and become a crane driver. The lady who now runs the whole Hinkley concrete batching plant – I think she started as a cleaner.
“In a world where we’re facing quite a significant recession, you have an organisation which is really committed to helping people have careers – not just jobs. It’s something which people should be really pleased about for their kids. I would strongly encourage my own kids to go into it.”
An artist's impression of what Sizewell C will look like. Picture: EDF
Ms Pyke also believes that the nuclear industry could bring more jobs to the east coast than offshore wind has done.
“In construction, offshore wind has around 24% UK content – because the UK didn’t invest in making the turbines.
“But with nuclear: Hinkley has 64% UK content and with Sizewell Cwe are aiming for – and very confident of achieving - 70% and possibly more.
“And if we were to do further EPR projects after Sizewell there would be more again.
“In Hinkley we committed to spend £4billion in the local economy over the life of the project and we’re already at £1.7bn.
“So we would expect to do the same [with Sizewell]. In fact, the East of England probably has more opportunity in terms of construction contractors and manufacturers and by being closer to London.”
But Ms Pyke called for the energy sector to work together more closely and have an even greater impact on the economy.
“It’s about getting the energy sector to fit together,” she said. “Right across the board we need to work with our contractors and the colleges to make sure that people can move from one industry to another."
Ms Pyke also believes that working together could make the energy sector greener.
“Nuclear power stations make heat and in the UK we’ve always used about 30% of that heat to make electricity for the grid but we haven’t previously used the rest of the heat,” she said.
“If we started using the heat – for example, to make hydrogen – then there are some great solutions.
“We could work with people like ABP and Hutchison to create synthetic fuels for shipping. Joining up our thinking so that different bits of the energy sector work together – and then working with people like the ports businesses and aviation so that together we’re creating a system to produce things which are net-zero.
“We are pursuing discussions with other industry players around how we can best work together. It’s why organisations like EEEGR are so useful. They’re forums which bring together people from wind, oil and gas so that we can pool our current activities are so useful.”
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