An exciting new agreement between the UK and China has seen NNL named as joint leaders of a new UK-China Joint Research and Innovation Centre (JRIC). The JRIC itself, and NNL’s involvement in it, were first announced during Chancellor George Osborne’s visit to Beijing in September.
The agreement was rubber stamped when NNL Chairman Richard Maudslay and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Vice-President Yu Peigen signed a Heads of Terms statement in London.
The ceremony was witnessed by the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd and China National Energy Administration Director Nur Bekri. This is another step forward in NNL’s research and development co-operation with CNNC and the roll out of the JRIC. The UK and China Governments have jointly committed £50M to the Centre over a five year period.
NNL and CNNC will establish and run the Centre and will commission projects on a number of different areas of work across the whole nuclear fuel cycle. In addition, the JRIC will act as a portal to enable UK companies and academia, and their Chinese counterparts, to work together on areas of mutual collaboration and benefit.
NNL and CNNC first signed a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding agreement last year that has acted as a pathway to future collaboration and ultimately the Heads of Terms statement. The JRIC will support the development of subject matter experts and others with higher level skills in both countries.
Over the coming months, NNL and CNNC will work together to agree a programme of work for the JRIC and will develop and strengthen links with other UK bodies. These include the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre(NAMRC), the National Skills Academy Nuclear (NSAN), the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) and key UK Universities working in support of the nuclear sector.
Commenting on the new JRIC, NNL Managing Director Paul Howarth said:”I’m very pleased to see this announcement, which is the result of a great deal of effort by colleagues in NNL and in CNNC. The JRIC is an important step in building the relationship between the UK and China as that country becomes increasingly important on the international nuclear stage.
“The work of the Centre will help to optimise the nuclear power generations systems we have operating today as well as working to develop the reactors and fuel cycles which we will deploy in future and better ways of dealing safely with nuclear waste. It will be a significant contributor to delivering high level skills and jobs in the North West of England which has always been the heartland of Britain’s nuclear industry.”
The establishment of the JRIC illustrates the value of NNL working closely with Government and being a key enabler for international research links into the UK in the civil nuclear sector. Through its Strategic Business Development team led by Strategy Director Chris Moore, NNL is also working with other nations to develop similar relationships.
The growing relationship between NNL and CNNC was first highlighted earlier this year with the signing of a research contract with the China Nuclear Power Engineering Company Limited (CNPE), a CNNC subsidiary. The scope of that agreement covers the various aspects of reactor design.
The announcements of closer links with China are important cornerstones of the growing connection between the nuclear industries in both nations, exemplified by the significant Chinese investment in the proposed new nuclear reactor project at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and will help to move both NNL and the UK generally to a more prominent position on the international nuclear stage.