An ambitious plan has been unveiled to create up to 1,000 jobs in Workington as a firm explores the next generation of nuclear new build.
TSP Engineering, based at Derwent Howe, is designing cutting edge technology to make nuclear energy cheaper and easier.
It is working with Professor Janne Wallenius, of Stockholm, on the innovative project.
Prof Wallenius has over 20 years of nuclear engineering experience, and has joined the specialist manufacturer for six months to design new, miniature nuclear reactors, which would be built at TSP’s Workington facility.
John Coughlan, chief executive of TSP Engineering, said: “This is a game-changer, a chance to be a disruptor in the marketplace.
“These advanced nuclear reactors would be built at TSP as a single unit then shipped to where they need to be installed.
“When you look at Moorside costing £10 billion and taking 10 years to build, these will cost, we think, around £150 million each and be built quicker. You’ll need four or five of them in a single location. It’s cheaper and quicker than the new builds previously proposed.”
Prof Wallenius said by the end of his secondment, they hoped to have full designs drawn up so a prototype would be created.
He met Mr Coughlan at a Government event and said: “TSP has the engineering expertise here, the capabilities to carry out this project. We are working from the theoretical stage to the production stage. We will create a prototype. This is a unique opportunity.”
Mr Coughlan added: “The market for nuclear energy will change. It will go from energy firms like EDF to firms like BP and Shell as electric vehicles begin to become more popular and more people swap their existing vehicles for ones with cleaner energy.”
He added that the export potential was enormous. He said: “It is so important that the UK gets behind this – this will change the international landscape and international sales could be numerous. We have the potential to make hundreds of these reactors.”
Work is ongoing to get Government support.
Mr Coughlan said: “We have a licensed site on our doorstep at Sellafield. We need to take advantage of that. What could be better than using the expertise we have here in Workington and installing the first operational advanced nuclear reactors at a Sellafield site? It makes sense.”
But, he said, TSP Engineering needed the support of politicians at all levels across the county for that to happen.
TSP Engineering is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Steel.
British was put into compulsory liquidation in May after talks between its owner Greybull Capital and the Government stalled.
Greybull Capital had been seeking financial support from the Government, saying it faced a number of Brexit-related issues but talks failed.
It was announced this week that British Steel was likely to be bought by a Turkish firm.
Mr Coughlan added: “TSP Engineering is fully supportive of British Steel’s efforts and results to bring itself out of insolvency.
“We are fully behind them and fully supportive.
“TSP Engineering is an independent company and we were not involved in the insolvency process that surrounded British Steel.
“We continue as a separate business to trade as normal, as a strong and solvent business.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that a consortium led by Rolls-Royce is planning to build “mini nuclear power stations” across the north, including Cumbria, in a £500 million scheme, backed by the Government.
It is understood that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make an announcement at a Northern Powerhouse summit next month and the Government will announce the funding for Rolls-Royce next month.