THE construction of the UK's first new nuclear power station in a generation will bring positive spin-offs for companies engaged in the supply chain in Scotland.
The hope has been expressed by Renfrew-based Doosan Babcock, the power projects and services company that provides "cradle to grave" service for the UK's fleet of nuclear power stations.
Doosan Babcock, which has a Scottish workforce of around 1600, is among hundreds of suppliers expected to bid for work on the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset.
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EDF Energy, a subsidiary of EDF Group, is developing the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK since 1995 at Hinkley, having recently agreed in principle the commercial terms of the project with the UK Government.
Subject to a final investment decision next July, commissioning of the first unit at Hinkley will be completed in 2023.
Caroline Cantley, head of strategy and business management for major nuclear projects at Doosan Babcock, said the project could bring a jobs boost to Scotland.
Ms Cantley noted: "We see it as a significant opportunity for our whole company and the supply chain across the UK.
"The benefits are not just for the big players but for SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] as well. It will bring lots of employment opportunities, particularly for young people - and it will be good for the training and development of existing staff. It is all very positive."
Doosan Babcock came into being when boiler manufacturer Babcock & Wilcox was acquired by Doosan Industries and Construction in 2006. Its involvement in servicing the UK's existing nuclear fleet includes the manufacture, construction pressure vessels and pipe work, and the development of specialist inspection technology.
But it is not solely reliant on the nuclear sector, having expertise in coal-fired power stations, nuclear plants, the offshore oil and gas industry, and in petrochemicals. It also operates in renewables.
Energy policy is reserved to Westminster, although the Scottish Government controls the planning policy levers for nuclear power stations. Its current policy is to oppose the construction of new plants in Scotland.
Asked to comment on the general public's views on nuclear stations being built again in the UK, Ms Cantley said: "I think there is a recognition generally that there is a need for a diversified energy portfolio and that nuclear will play a key part in that going forward.
"There is a recognition across the UK that a balanced portfolio is good for the UK."
EDF, which operates the Hunterston and Torness nuclear plants in Ayrshire and East Lothian, hosted a conference in London yesterday which aimed to help UK firms win contracts to work on the £16 billion Hinkley development.
It said studies have shown 57% of the construction costs can be spent in the UK, noting that its French partner, AREVA, had already signed a memorandum of understanding with 25 British companies for the supply of components and services. Clyde Union and Doosan Babcock were due to attend.
The conference came as energy minister Michael Fallon announced details of a £13m scheme to ensure UK-based businesses share in the building of new nuclear facilities in the UK.
The joint funding from the Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, aims to grow a robust and sustainable supply chain in the UK by developing innovative products and services for the nuclear sector.