Greg Hands’ speech at the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017

Speech delivered by Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Greg Hands.

The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP


Thank you to Paul [Howarth] for that introduction and let me welcome you to the second day of the Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for International Trade spoke about how the UK nuclear sector remains open for business.

He outlined the huge investment opportunities across the length and breadth of the UK.

And he spoke of Brexit not as a retrenchment of our civil nuclear capability, but quite the opposite.

So, let me be clear.

Our nuclear safeguarding and safety regime will continue to be forward looking.

Our nuclear R&D expertise will remain pride of place.

And, we will enter into new trade agreements that will allow our nuclear programme to excel.

Later this afternoon, you’ll hear country briefings on China, France and Central Europe.

You’ll see the impressive level of opportunity out there which British expertise can fulfil.

So my message today is simple.

The UK will become the leading international partner of choice in the civil nuclear field – exporting our expertise right across the nuclear life cycle and right across the world.

We will do this by seizing the global opportunity out there, harnessing the UK’s world leading capability.

We will ensure that very capability continues to develop and strengthen at home – underpinned by a robust industrial strategy.

And finally government, and in particular my Department for International Trade, will double-down on our support to ensure the UK’s nuclear sector continues to grow.

Global opportunity

The very make-up of this room reflects a truly global industry.

From fuel services and waste management companies, to regulators and reactor builders – nuclear spans continents.

In the next 13 years, the overseas market for building new reactors will be worth £930 billion across 30 countries, and around £250 billion will be spent on decommissioning old ones.

In fact by 2030, the UK will be sizing a potential export market of £240 billion.

The opportunity, although impressive in size, should always be seen through the lens of international standards and values.

The UK is rightly guided by our international non-proliferation obligations in relation to exporting nuclear-related items.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency provides a stable global framework, under which UK companies should have the confidence to take advantage of a world of opportunity.

And this confidence is well deserved.

UK export capability

Our world class nuclear supply chain capability is the product of over 60 years of experience and research.

It started with Calder Hall in Cumbria in 1956 – the world’s first civil nuclear programme.

From this strong base, UK industry has plans for new nuclear reactors amounting to up to 18 gigawatt of new capacity over the coming years.

It has led some to claim the UK has become the focus of a nuclear renaissance.

Even though we do not have a nuclear reactor vendor of our own, UK companies possess experience in all existing technologies – and even some future ones.

So we’re ideally placed to supply and impartially advise global partners on all aspects of nuclear new build.

Our firms have worked on some of the most challenging waste management and decommissioning programmes in the world, including the safe clean-up of nuclear sites from Japan to Germany to the United States.

We are specialists in the fuel life cycle, plant life maintenance and extension, and are also providing the other key skills required to support a nuclear programme - from education and training to financial and legal consultancy.

And this is translating into export success.

From the UAE, to Turkey and Central Europe, British companies have been winning contracts.

But our ability to look abroad depends on being strong at home.

We are focussing on innovative and high quality nuclear manufacturing through our Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which operates a ‘Fit 4 Nuclear’ programme to ensure a strong supply chain.

Cutting edge R&D is being developed in centres such as the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, and plans are now being put in place for the China-UK Joint Research and Innovation Centre.

And we are ensuring we have the right number of people with the right skills at the right time, through organisations such as the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and the National College for Nuclear.

But it’s all very well having a business policy, an infrastructure policy, and a skills policy, but if they don’t work together, we’ll hit a ceiling.

Our Industrial Strategy joins these up and will unleash our potential.

Where we see opportunities overseas, we encourage UK companies to work together to win these contracts and where there are gaps, we will redirect investment in those areas.

All this shows a capability that is constantly being strengthened, that continues to set global standards, and that will ensure the UK becomes the international partner of choice in nuclear.

Government support

Before I close, I want to talk about the support available that underpins this ambition.

My department’s nuclear team in London and our commercial officers based around the world – from Berlin to Beijing, will continue supporting UK businesses operating overseas, whether through operational support or via strategic government to government discussions.

I was in China earlier this year where I met with the China General Nuclear following their investment in the UK last year.

This investment stands to open many opportunities for UK companies throughout the supply chain.

I am pleased to hear that my department and CGN are also holding a related workshop this afternoon, to discuss how to develop a win-win approach to UK-China supply chain collaboration.

But it isn’t just support at the diplomatic level.

Financing is being provided by UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency which is part of my department.

Just look at Wales based Flamgard Calidair, who, thanks to UKEF, will now provide fire and shut off dampers to the Chernobyl site – demolishing the previous containment building, whilst securing the remaining radioactive material.

And my department will be leading a supply chain mission to Hungary and the Czech Republic in March, as well as missions to the US Waste Management Symposia and the China International Nuclear Exhibition in Beijing.

We want companies from across the UK and across the supply chain signing up.

The level of tailored support on offer for UK companies is as much unprecedented as it is effective.

And the outcomes speak for themselves.

The Department for International Trade has already helped UK firms win hundreds of millions pounds worth of civil nuclear export contracts and we have ambitious targets for the next 5 years.


In conclusion, few industries will have a greater impact on our way of life in the coming decades than nuclear.

I am both delighted and proud that the UK is already seen as a world leader in this sector.

The UK will always be forward looking; we will always allow our companies to excel.

We will truly be the international partner of choice in nuclear.

Over 60 years ago, we helped lead the world in civil nuclear capability. Let’s look to reclaim that mantle, starting today.

Thank you.

Published 1 March 2017