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Nuclear Decommissioning Supply Chain Is A Slow Burn For SMEs

Nuclear Decommissioning Supply Chain Is A Slow Burn For SMEs

According to International Energy Agency data, nuclear is now the largest low-carbon power source in both Europe and the United States, about three times bigger than wind and solar combined, but since most reactors were built in the 1970s and 1980s, they will reach the end of their life by 2020. This represents a key driver for investment in new nuclear power plants, but is also a ready market for companies wishing to become involved in the nuclear decommissioning sector.

Decommissioning costs are rising and complex challenges are being faced so SME businesses entering the market with fresh ideas and new technologies should be welcomed with open arms as the market searches for the best solutions for nuclear decommissioning in the UK and globally.

Slow progress

However, in common with many other small and medium businesses, Strata has found its progress in the market to be slow. Despite the UK Government’s push to attract SMEs into the nuclear decommissioning sector, many businesses are struggling to penetrate structured supply chains and gain sufficient traction.

Strata’s Managing Director, Dr Roger Kimber told Nuclear AMRC News:

“While we have not achieved any significant new work to date in the nuclear sector, the Fit for Nuclear (F4N) standard has helped us build credibility in other sectors which has resulted in Strata securing new work. F4N has fundamentally changed the business and resulted in significant internal improvement in strategic planning, communication and staff engagement throughout the business. We have improved and continue to improve soft skills via appraisals, competencies, training and continued professional development at all levels.

Vehicle for change

“It has also provided us with a vehicle for change – having previously been almost wholly dependent on work from the oil and gas industry, we clearly recognised the need for the business to diversify. We were identifying new target sectors where our skills and capability could be effectively utilised, and the F4N programme provided us with the opportunity for gaining access to the UK civil nuclear sector.

“Gaining opportunities to discuss work with key decision makers in the nuclear sector has been difficult to date. We have held discussions with a few tier one and two organisations, but we recognise that timeframes for setting up meetings and arranging follow-on discussions are necessarily protracted.

“It has been great to see the Nuclear AMRC take a more proactive approach in supporting F4N-approved businesses, such as the various nuclear exhibitions during 2017. The civil nuclear industry is very resilient to change, yet it must embrace this if we are to meet our future energy needs and have the infrastructure in place in the UK to achieve this,” he concluded.

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