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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sharing expertise

COMPANIES from West Cumbria will form the backbone of a British trade mission to Japan and South Korea, as Britain’s Energy Coast looks to help globalise the region’s expertise in the nuclear industry.

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HEADING EAST: West Cumbrian companies are off to Japan to increase awareness of Britain’s UK nuclear capabilities to assist with the £10bn clean-up operation following the Fukushima incident (above), as well as a first visit to South Korea. Inset, Phil Jardine, from Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster

A trade mission that has been arranged by UKTI in partnership with British Energy Coast and the Nuclear Industry Association is the latest of a series of visits and events aimed at increasing awareness of Britain’s nuclear capabilities to the Japanese market post Fukushima.

It is the first time a delegation of this kind has visited South Korea, where the objective is to learn more about the country’s plans for new build both at home and overseas, as well as decommissioning.

BEC is financially supporting a delegation, which includes 12 companies from West Cumbria, which will travel to South Korea to meet representatives from the Korea Atomic Energy Forum and businesses including Korea Electric Power Company and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.

The country is committed to increasing the proportion of nuclear energy generated from 32 per cent to 59 per cent by 2030 and is looking to grow its experience in decommissioning as well new build in countries such as United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Vietnam and South Africa.

The Japanese leg of the trip is the latest of a series of high level visits and events that have taken place in the last year to increase awareness of Britain’s UK nuclear capabilities to assist with the £10bn clean-up operation following the Fukushima incident as well as potential future decommissioning work resulting from the country’s new nuclear policy.

Delegates will meet representatives from all tiers of company involved in the Japanese nuclear industry including utility giant Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Both trips will provide West Cumbrian companies with the opportunity to learn more about the two important East Asian markets and to promote their products and services.

The West Cumbria Economic Blueprint, launched in the summer, placed a strong emphasis on West Cumbrian companies involved in the nuclear and energy supply chain to seek international opportunities.

Delegates at the launch were told that 40-60 reactors would need decommissioning in Europe in addition to new build and decommissioning opportunities in other countries future afield such as Japan.

Luke Dicicco, Head of Communications and Inward Investment at BEC, said: “We have placed a lot of importance on the need for West Cumbrian companies to compete for global business and not just what emanates from Sellafield, as important as that is.

“We have world-class businesses in this area with world-class skills and expertise in the nuclear industry, in particular decommissioning, which could be of huge value to the global marketplace and of course help create new jobs and opportunities right here in West Cumbria.”

The 12 companies taking part in the delegation are Tata Steel; Nuclear Engineering Services Ltd; NIS Ltd; James Fisher Nuclear; Nuclear Decontamination Services Ltd; Westlakes Engineering; Forth Engineering; TIS Cumbria; React Engineering; National Nuclear Laboratory, Shepley Engineers Limited and Resource Marketing.

They answered a call made by supply chain membership organisation Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, which has led on arranging the trip.

Business Development Director at BECBC, Phil Jardine, said: “There appears to be a good fit with what West Cumbrian companies can provide in terms of products and services and what the Japanese companies involved in the clean-up post Fukushima require.

“We’ve been advised by UK Trade and Investment that Japanese companies will seek to use Japanese resources unless we have something exceptional to offer.

“Our companies may well have that, given our unique skills and experience, but if not then there is the potential for partnering and licensing.

“But we have to appreciate that this is our first step in building long-term relationships given the very different way Japanese companies like to do business and also the sensitivities around Fukushima and the terrible human cost of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.”

It is estimated that 15,000 were left dead and that another 3,000 are still missing following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, which resulted in the meltdown in three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The scale of the on-site and off-site clean-up operation will take decades and amount to an estimated £10 billion.

As a result Japanese policy has focused on the country becoming non-nuclear by the end of the 2030s, which presents decommissioning opportunities at the country’s other nuclear power stations, explained Dr Keith Franklin, First Secretary (Nuclear) for the UKTI’s Japanese team.

But he was eager to point out that link-ups with Japanese companies could offer the potential for inward investment opportunities.

He said: “I’d like to emphasise that actually this is a two-way thing here. We have some experience that may be useful to Japan but equally in the clean-up of Fukushima they will learn things and develop technologies and techniques which will be useful to Britain,” he said.

“We’re still at the stage of sharing information and sharing experience. There certainly is an appetite for finding out what we can offer, what we’ve got available and what our experiences are.

“Previous visits have gone very well in terms of getting companies to understand that the UK has been involved in decommissioning for some time.

“They haven’t had a commercial angle and that has been important – the hard sell does not go down very well.”

The visit to South Korea and Japan took place in the last week in November.

Rt Hon Brian Wilson, Chairman of BEC, said: “This is the first time BEC and, to my knowledge, West Cumbria has done something like this so it is an exciting step. Our strapline says ‘Acting Locally, Thinking Globally’. It is superb to see we’re starting to act globally too.”

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