David Cameron in France to sign nuclear power deal

Cameron Oct 2010 Picnik.jpg

British prime minister David Cameron is meeting Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday (17 February) to cement a £500 million (€602 million) agreement on civilian nuclear co-operation that is expected to create more than 1,500 jobs in Britain.

Britain and France are to sign a landmark agreement to co-operate on civil nuclear energy, paving the way for the construction of a new generation of power plants in the UK.

Deals between British and French companies – worth more than £500m (€602m) – will allow work to start on new facilities, creating more than 1,500 jobs.

The prime minister, David Cameron, who is in Paris to meet the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to seal the deal, said the agreements were "just the beginning" of investment the government says could be worth £60bn (€72.3bn) and create 30,000 jobs.

A joint declaration to be signed by the two leaders at a UK-France summit will signal a shared commitment to civil nuclear power, establishing a framework for co-operation on security, research and development, education and training.

The unrest in Syria, defence and concerns over Iran's possible ambitions for nuclear weapons will also be high on the agenda.

Sarkozy announced this week that he will stand for re-election in presidential elections to be held on 22 April and 6 May, with polls suggesting he is trailing his Socialist rival, François Hollande.

Downing Street said that by joining forces in the nuclear sector, Britain and France sould develop a competitive supply chain capable of seizing opportunities around the world.

Rolls-Royce will sign a £400m (€482m) deal with the French energy company Areva to supply services to the first EPR reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset, with a commitment for future EPR sites in the UK.

Rolls-Royce will build a dedicated factory in Rotherham, and the deal will underpin more than 1,200 jobs in the company and its supply chain.

The French company EDF will conclude a £100m (€120.5m) agreement with Keir/BAM Nuttall for preliminary works at Hinkley Point – the first major construction project to be awarded in the £10bn project. EDF will invest in a £15m (€18.07m) training campus in nearby Bridgwater.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cameron said: "At our last summit, we signed a historic partnership on defence. Today we will match that ambition on nuclear energy.

"The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK, but they are just the beginning.

"I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK. Today marks an important first step towards that – a good deal for Britain and a good deal for France."

The energy secretary, Ed Davey, travelling to Paris with Cameron a fortnight after his promotion to the cabinet, said: "We need hundreds of billions of pounds of investment in clean energy projects in the UK. This will bring high-skilled job opportunities the length and breadth of the country.

"There are plans for new nuclear in Somerset, Suffolk, Cumbria, North Wales and Gloucestershire. Supply chains will spring up too, and extend the reach of economic benefit across the country."

The summit comes on the first anniversary of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, which saw the UK and France work closely together in the UN-backed military operation to protect civilians.

Cameron said: "One year on from the Libya uprising, we are working together to stand up to the murderous Syrian regime and to stop a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran."

According to the World Nuclear Association, many countries with existing nuclear power programmes have plans to build new power reactors beyond those now under construction.

In all, over 155 reactors with a total net capacity of some 175,000 MWe are planned and over 320 more are proposed.

Rising gas prices and greenhouse constraints on coal, coupled with energy security concerns, have combined to put nuclear power back on the agenda for projected new capacity in both Europe and North America.

Romania's second power reactor started up in 2007, and plans are being implemented for two further Canadian units to operate by 2017.

Slovakia is completing two 470 MWe units at Mochovce, to operate from 2011-12.

Bulgaria is planning to start building two 1000 MWe Russian reactors at Belene.

Poland is planning some nuclear power capacity, and may also join a project in Lithuania, along with Estonia and Latvia.

In Finland, construction is now under way on a fifth, very large reactor which will come on line in 2012, and plans are firming for another large one to follow it.

Turkey plans to start constructing a nuclear power station in 2014.

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