New strategic partnership announced with EDF for nuclear energy
Press release issued: 10 February 2014
The University of Bristol has negotiated a new strategic partnership with French nuclear energy company, EDF, with the aim of establishing a base for nuclear energy research and teaching in the South West.
Ahead of the recent Franco-British summit between Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande, the two governments issued a joint communique declaring their commitment to developing safe nuclear energy, commercial opportunities and skills. This included recognition of the Nuclear Research Centre’s role, a joint partnership with the universities of Bristol and Oxford, in supporting the nuclear energy industry though the formation of a regional research and teaching hub.
Recently the University of Bristol has been re-establishing its existing relationships with strategic industrial partners, signing a ‘Statement of Intent’ with EDF, with the goal of creating a physical presence for the Bristol-based research hub.
The University, on behalf of the South West Nuclear Research Hub, have negotiated an agreement which would see investment from and partnership with EDF. This collaboration will cover the safe operation of civil nuclear power generation systems in the UK and will contribute to EDF’s research into new build and decommissioning.
Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive of EDF, speaking about a number of joint initiatives EDF Energy has launched to boost the UK’s ability to support, supply and benefit from its growing civil nuclear industry, said: “France and Britain have much to gain by sharing their strength and experience to boost the capability of their nuclear industries at home and around the world. That will be underpinned by their in-depth and growing expertise in nuclear research and development.”
Professor Sir Eric Thomas, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, added: “The announcement underlines the importance of the Franco-British partnership, our developing relationship with EDF and our work to support this important sector.
“The creation of a South West UK Nuclear Research Hub at Bristol will bring academia and industry together to help to address some of the most pressing global energy supply challenges.”
The summit reiterated the two Governments’ shared view that nuclear power has a critical role to play in a cost-effective low carbon transition in the United Kingdom.
The University of Bristol, in partnership with the University of Oxford, formed the joint Nuclear Research Centre in 2011.
The Bristol Nuclear Group (BNG) is overseen by a steering committee:
Professor David Smith, Mechanical Engineering
Dr Tom Scott, Interface Analysis Centre (IAC) Director
Professor Peter Flewitt, Visiting Professor in Physics
Dr John May, Civil Engineering
The support team is led by Jean Vogel, with Jamie Townes and Anona Williams.
As part of the joint nuclear activity the BNG has mutually agreed upon nine research themes, each representing areas in which Bristol is considered to have specific and leading expertise:
- Structural integrity – Professor David Smith, Mechanical Engineering
- Structural engineering- Professor Colin Taylor, Civil Engineering
- Nuclear Materials and modelling – Professor Peter Flewitt, School of Physics and Professor Neil Allan, School of Chemistry
- Waste and Fuel management – Dr Tom Scott, IAC Director
- Software Reliability – Dr John May, Civil engineering
- Nuclear hazards and risks – Dr David Richards, School of Geographical Sciences
- Monitoring technologies and systems integration – Professor Paul Wilcox, Mechanical Engineering and Dr Jaap Velthuis, School of Physics
- Development of new materials – Professors Hua-Xin Peng and Fabrizio Scarpa, Advanced Centre for Composites in Innovation and Science (ACCIS), also Bristol Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information (NSQI)
- Robotics – Dr Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Deputy Director of Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL)
The Nuclear Research Centre is part of the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute. The institute carries out fundamental and responsive research on risks and uncertainties in a changing environment. Its interests include natural hazards, food and energy security, resilience and governance, and human impacts on the environment. Its research fuses rigorous statistical and numerical modelling with a deep understanding of interconnected social, environmental and engineered systems – past, present and future. It seeks to engage wider society – listening to, exploring with, and challenging our stakeholders to develop a shared response to twenty-first century challenges.