For some time there has been discussion in the news about the future of power supplies in the UK and the threatened closures of old nuclear stations and coal-fired plants that fail to meet EU emission regulations. Nuclear power currently contributes 20% of UK electricity. The government's Energy White Paper expects that the UK will lose 22.5 gigawatts of power by 2020. There is concern that unless new power generating plant is brought on line in the near future, there will be power shortages in the next decade.
Electricite de France (EDF), the giant French utility group agreed last month to buy British Energy (BE), the nuclear power generator, for just over £12 billion. EDF will form a new holding company in the UK and Centrica (the energy company behind British Gas) will pay £3.1 billion for 25% of it (The Sunday Times, 2 November 2008). EDF does not believe that Europe has the engineering and construction capacity to build enough nuclear plants at sufficient speed to fill the gap that would be left in Britain by the planned closure of old and obsolete power stations. Bernard Dupraz, EDF's senior executive vice-president for power generation, said:
'I think to fill this gap it will have to be gas-fired power stations' (The Times Online, 28 November 2008).
EDF wants to build four nuclear reactors in Britain over the next 10 years. Construction of the first site starting in 2012 would mean the first electricity could be generated by 2017. Bernard Dupraz believes that once the building programme is up and running, EDF could bring a nuclear plant on stream every 18 months (The Times Online, 28 November 2008). However, four new reactors will fill less than half of the power gap forecast by the government. Rapid construction of gas-fired power stations, which could be built in a shorter time frame, would solve the supply problem in the short term (The Times Online, 28 November 2008).
Each new nuclear plant will create 2,000 jobs for the five year construction period and require an operational staff of 300. Thousands of British graduates will have to be trained to meet EDF's ambition for an Anglo-French nuclear power assault on the world. Areva envisages a large nuclear supply chain created in the UK, but indicated there was a huge task in educating and training workforces to meet the demanding standards of the nuclear industry (The Times Online, 28 November 2008).
Read The Times 100 case studies on two different organisations who are working to meet energy demands:
British Gas Services the country's best recognised energy brand, is part of the Centrica Group, a multinational company formed in 1997. To deliver its services, British Gas Services employs more than 9,000 trained gas engineers to install and maintain central heating and gas appliances and needs high calibre staff. This case study explores how the company manages the recruitment and selection of new employees.
NDA is the owner of a number of nuclear sites and facilities. These include Sellafield in Cumbria, Dounreay in Scotland and the original fleet of Magnox Power Stations. The mission of the NDA is to deliver safe, sustainable and publicly acceptable solutions to the challenge of nuclear clean-up and waste management.