New nuclear future for Berkeley nuclear power station site
A former nuclear power station site is to be redeveloped for a new kind of nuclear technology.
Berkeley, in Gloucestershire, was home to a Magnox reactor from 1962 to 1989.
The site is now owned by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS), who have agreed to sell their science park on the site to Chiltern Vital Group (CVG).
Working with Rolls Royce, CVG plan to establish a low-carbon energy 'super cluster' at the site.
The idea is to attract companies developing technology to help create so-called 'small modular reactors'.
CVG is a leading UK developer in the zero-carbon energy, digital education and technology sectors.
Chris Turner, CEO of CVG said they were "honoured" to be chosen "to deliver this international advanced zero carbon /nuclear technology park for training, FE & HE education, research and development, and applications testing."
"Small modular reactors"
As the name suggests small modular reactors are smaller but also cheaper than traditional nuclear plants.
They would produce much less power, usually around 300 megawatts.
Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, will produce ten times that when it eventually starts generating sometime in 2030.
But they are also much cheaper.
Rolls Royce, who are leading the development of small reactors, estimate each one would cost about £2bn.
With the bill for Hinkley Point now upwards of £46bn, the small reactors are starting to look like good value for money.
The new developers say they want to make Berkeley a home for companies developing the technology behind these small reactors.
Ian Mean, a veteran of Gloucestershire business, who now speaks for Business West, said the announcement was "very good news for the nuclear roadmap and our Gloucestershire economy."
Rolls Royce are leading the development of this type of reactor in the UK,
Alan Woods, Rolls-Royce SMR Strategy & Business Development Director welcomed the redevelopment of Berkeley.
He said: "This kind of commitment, to building future nuclear skills across all levels of education, will support the roll-out of Rolls-Royce SMRs across the UK and beyond," he said.
Gloucestershire Science & Technology Park was set up in 2016 when the SGS Group purchased the redundant Berkeley site for £3m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
Kevin Hamblin, Chief Executive Officer of SGS College Group, said: "The possible acquisition of SGS Berkeley by this Energy consortium would not just be a transaction; it would create a partnership that embodies a mutual commitment to spearheading innovations in nuclear technology."
"The sale would mark a significant milestone in the College's history, promising to create a new era of energy innovation and educational excellence in the region." he added.
The site is also home to a University Technical College (UTC), which is an initiative to focus on technical education for students between 14-18 years old and has around 400 students studying at the site.
The UTC is not being sold as part of this agreement, and will carry on working as before.