Press release

UK and France sign declaration on nuclear energy and agree cooperation on ambitious climate change action

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK and French governments today issued a joint communique declaring their commitment to developing safe nuclear energy, commercial opportunities and skills.

The declaration, which comes ahead of national leaders’ discussions over the EU’s 2030 energy and climate policy framework, reiterates the two Governments’ shared view that nuclear power has a critical role to play in a cost-effective low carbon transition.

The move is the latest in a string of UK-French initiatives on energy and climate policy, including successfully pushing for the European Commission to propose a 40% EU domestic emissions reduction target for 2030, reflecting the importance of giving national governments flexibility over their own energy mixes and securing reform of the Emission Trading System.

The declaration paves the way for the two Governments to collaborate on constructing new nuclear power stations, to maximise opportunities for SMEs in nuclear supply-chains and to fund joint training and skills centres.

During the Franco-British Summit, hosted by the Prime Minister at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey and French Energy Minister Phillipe Martin met to discuss how the two countries can further work together to develop interconnectors, nuclear and renewable energy projects; secure an ambitious and early EU 2030 energy and climate package; and deliver a global climate deal at the Paris hosted UN climate conference in 2015.

Edward Davey said:

Our two countries have a shared interest in tackling climate change and developing low-carbon secure electricity which provides new green jobs and investment.

Today, we reiterated our resolve to work together towards achieving an ambitious and legally-binding agreement at the next COP in Paris in 2015, and to support an EU-wide emissions reduction target of at least 40% by 2030.

To unlock the full benefits of the single energy market, European countries need to become more interconnected. So today, we agreed to continue our work to build more electricity interconnectors between our two nations.

Our partnership on nuclear power has already borne fruit, with this Government’s agreement with EDF on key commercial terms for an investment contract that would enable Britain’s first new nuclear power station in a generation to be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The declaration we have signed today will further enhance this relationship, allowing us to explore further commercial opportunities to develop nuclear power, and to enhance our expertise and skills in this sector.

The French and UK Government have agreed to:

  • Work together to maximise opportunities for SMEs in nuclear supply chains

  • Develop skilled workforces through investing in joint training programmes and in research and development.

  • Enhance capabilities in civil nuclear emergency planning and security.

Notes for Editors

SUMMARY OF 2014 SUMMIT DELIVERABLES

NIA / PFME AGREEMENT ON SME’s

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) and Partenariat France Monde Electricité (PFME - a French organization which comprises 70 SMEs that are qualified suppliers of EDF for the French nuclear programme) have agreed to sign an MoU to the form the basis of cooperation with a view to helping members of the SME Partnership and PFME to develop their business interests in both countries as well as overseas. The broad objective is to enhance dialogue, information exchange and communications between the two organisations.

AREVA / NATIONAL SKILLS ACADEMY FOR NUCLEAR

AREVA has committed to offering strategic and practical support to the National Skills Academy for Nuclear for the development of UK nuclear energy skills. Specifically, AREVA will provide a total of £100k to the Supply Chain Apprentices for Nuclear Programme managed by NSA Nuclear. The funding is to create approximately 20 additional apprenticeships in the UK nuclear manufacturing supply chain and to provide additional professional training to existing apprentices. In addition, the company will provide executive-level strategic manpower to work with NSA Nuclear in its role as the lead strategic skills body. This includes chairmanship of the National Skills Academy Nuclear for manufacturing and also to support the Nuclear Industry Council Skills Workstream.

IMPERIAL / CEA

Imperial College London and Manchester University have been awarded grants from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre (EPSRC) to act as centres for Doctoral Training for nuclear studies. As such, each university will lead a small group of UK universities to coordinate UK PhD training on nuclear related subjects. Under this scheme, Imperial and Manchester are interested in working with the CEA, France’s nuclear research organisation, to allow their PhD students access to CEA’s considerable expertise and world-leading research facilities. Talks have been on-going for the past year. Although a formal full joint chemo (jointly funded programme with co-badged degree certificates) is unlikely to be the solution due to the universities’ administrative constraints, talks will continue in 2014 to explore and agree on the exact nature of the collaboration.

EDF / IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON

EDF has a long-standing relationship with Imperial’s Energy Futures Laboratory and the Centre for Nuclear Engineering. The collaboration covers research, education and training on nuclear engineering and fields related to the generation and distribution of electricity. Imperial and EDF have agreed to expand the existing relationship over the next five years to cover subjects relating to the new build programme (civil engineering, concrete ageing, waste), energy management (especially linked to renewable energy) and end user demand.

EDF / BRISTOL UNIVERSITY

Bristol University, on behalf of the South-West Nuclear Research Hub, have been negotiating an agreement which would see investment from and partnership with EDF. This collaboration will cover the safe operation of civil nuclear power generation systems in the UK and will contribute to EDF’s research into new build and decommissioning.

NNL / AREVA

Through a letter of intent, both organisations will work more closely together on developing nuclear fuel cycle technology, building on the NNL’s involvement in the UK’s Nuclear Fuel Centre of Excellence. They will also collectively look at technologies to enhance existing plant lifetime. NNL / CEA

Through a later of intent, the two organisations will build on an existing MoU to enhance cooperation on advanced fuel and reactor technologies, particularly with regards to the ASTRID fast reactor.

EDF / NNL

EDF engagement with UK research organisations continues to grow and has been further with agreements to strengthen research collaborations with the University of Bristol and Imperial College London (see above) in addition to the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) collaboration. This adds to an existing portfolio of cooperation agreements with the Universities of Strathclyde, Manchester and UCL, the Energy Technologies Institute and the public sector organisations such as the Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board.

CIVIL NUCLEAR SECURITY

The Framework for Cooperation on civil nuclear security, signed at the 2012 Summit, facilitates the sharing of good practise around the security of civil nuclear materials at power plants and during transportation. Joint work under the Framework includes the exchange of information, study visits and observation of training exercises by Government Departments, nuclear regulators, the UK’s Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Gendarmerie. Under the agreement we have had round table discussions in London and Paris to explore respective practises in guarding, communications, and effective implementation of security regulations and papers are being developed to capture best practise for wider rollout. The next meeting is in France in summer 2014 and could potentially involve a visit to a nuclear site to see security measures in practice.

EDF / BRIDGWATER COLLEGE ( world class training centre initiative)

Working in partnership with EDF, Bridgwater College opened the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre in March 2013. Financed by EDF at a cost of £1.5m, it is a specialist civil engineering and construction trades training facility designed to provide local capacity for the Hinkley Point C development as well serving both regional and national infrastructure demand in the future.

I2EN / NATIONAL SKILLS ACADEMY FOR NUCLEAR

Since the 2012 agreement, and at the request of I2EN, NSAN have hosted a meeting with PGE to share learning and best practice on the development of competency frameworks. In addition, NSAN brokered a meeting between Manchester University and I2EN which led to an event that considered the potential for higher-level placement opportunities between France and the UK.

NNL / CEA

The NNL have taken on the management of the UK’s interest in the Jules Horowitz Research Reactor, based at the CEA’s Cadarache facility in the south of France. This involves close co-operation as part of the programme board for the reactor. In addition, there was a set of NNL & CEA meetings held in December that have coalesced into the terms for the new letter of intent on ASTRID working.

AREVA / ROLLS ROYCE

Both companies continue to cooperate closely and constructively in the development of a components programme for use in Areva’s UK EPR fleet and specifically in the development of a components manufacturing facility in the UK. While no final investment decisions have yet been taken, and negotiations continue as to work share, site location and scope.

ELECTRICITY INTERCONNECTORS

The British and French electricity markets are already linked by a 2GW interconnector, IFA. In 2013 the UK and French Governments supported three further potential links to become European Projects of Common Interest (PCI): ElecLink, Fablink, and IFA2. Subject to regulatory approvals at the national and European levels, a final investment decision on ElecLink is anticipated in mid-2014 with the link becoming operational towards the end of 2016.