The discovery of nuclear reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than the discovery of matches. Albert Einstein
In many areas of the world, notably the Asia-Pacific region, nuclear energy is developing very quickly indeed. Throughout the decades of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s nuclear energy grew at a faster rate than any other form of energy production such as oil, coal, gas or hydropower.
The civil nuclear industry plays a vital role in ensuring a balanced, environmentally responsible future for the UK and the rest of the world. The usage of nuclear fleets has meant that the production of 60 million tonnes of CO2 has been avoided yearly. However, these power stations will start to close soon and we will need to replace them if we are to have any chance of meeting our climate change objectives. At present, nuclear power provides some 15% of the world's electricity, around 35% of the EU's electricity and 20% of Britain's electricity supply. This figure represents more than 80% of all the UK's present low-carbon power.
In recent years, the world’s most skilled nuclear specialists have aged and are now approaching retirement, while the new generation of vital talent has not been sufficient in number to fill all the gaps they are leaving behind. Future Executive Search’s Jennifer Evans, along with senior figures in the nuclear industry, has recently been a major contributor to ‘The Power Challenge’, a study into the skills shortage within the industry. Her unique insight and extensive experience have enabled Future Executive Search to make many challenging, important placements in this sector.
All facilities within the commercial nuclear fuel cycle will eventually need to be decommissioned following their permanent closure. There are also many nuclear research facilities and defence related establishments which will require decommissioning, further increasing the size of this vast industry for the UK and international markets. The global decommissioning market is roughly estimated to be worth £300 billion over the next 30 years. There are over £60 billion worth of programmes to decommission ageing nuclear reactors. Competition for skills in this industry is fierce, and the decommissioning sector must compete with other areas of the nuclear industry for a limited skills resource in order to gain the technical capability it requires.
Today, there are over 400 nuclear power plants operating worldwide in 30 countries with a net capacity of around 375 GWe. In 2009, these reactors generated 2560 billion kWh, nearly 15% of the world’s electricity. In 2011, 65 nuclear reactors were under construction in 16 countries. In spite of some uncertainty following the effects of the Japanese earthquake on the Fukushima facilities, it cannot be denied that nuclear power generation represents the most significant source of abundant energy supply for the future. Safety considerations will play an even more prominent role than ever in nuclear new builds.
Along with Europe, Asia-Pacific is a key market for the new build nuclear industry, with most new construction planned in this region. The highest revenue generation is expected to occur between 2010 and 2030. Asia-Pacific is expected to generate over US$ 150bn by 2030. The industry will need to take an innovative approach to meet demand for a highly skilled and globally mobile workforce to deliver on the design, engineering and construction of major nuclear facilities, while ensuring full regulatory and licensing compliance. Future Executive Search has the understanding, network and previous track record to deliver this.
Nuclear power is the only energy-producing technology which takes full responsibility for all its waste and fully costs this into the product. The amount of radioactive waste is also very small in relation to that produced by fossil fuel electricity generation. If a fleet of new plants was commissioned to replace the current ones they would only add around 10% to the volume of existing waste over their 60-year lifespan. There is also an increasing reluctance to dispose of used fuel because it represents a significant energy resource which could be reprocessed at a later date to allow recycling of the uranium and plutonium. This represents a significant technological challenge today and into the future. Future Executive Search’s expertise enables our clients to meet this challenge.
Site Management & Operations
There is a growing need for nuclear site operators to outsource services to improve cost efficiency. This provides operators with greater availability of skilled, nuclear trained and security cleared staff to deal with peaks of high demand. Specialist providers of site management and operational services require a highly trained and mobile workforce with unique technical skills. Services include equipment control and maintenance, project supervision, safety and security management, environmental protection and optimisation of performance and profitability. There is also a requirement for outsourced nuclear logistics and waste management services.