It's currently an exciting period of transition for the UK's nuclear energy sector. While the country relies daily on a huge and dependable supply of electrical power, it is also eager to lessen its currently significant dependence on burning fossil fuels for generating this power. Meanwhile, the UK has an ageing energy infrastructure that requires revival. Nuclear energy can help in addressing various issues - and students can prepare to help the UK pursue a revolution in nuclear power.
Why nuclear power is truly good for the planet?
Burning fossil fuels is resulting in carbon emissions and greenhouse gas pollution that the country aims to reduce significantly. While, as Cogent reports, the UK is set on moving towards a mix of renewable and non-renewable energy technologies , the carbon emissions of nuclear power generation are pretty much zero - making nuclear energy a genuinely "green" type of energy.
Strictly speaking, nuclear energy is not "renewable". However, the world's supply of the basic fuel, uranium, is practically unlimited - and a miniscule amount of uranium-based fuel can provide a lot of energy. Just one pellet, equivalent in size to the rubber on the end of a pencil, of this fuel can provide as much energy as 4.5 barrels of oil, 17,000 cubic feet of gas or 1 ton of coal.
Emerging opportunities for students
Students are well-placed to benefit from the emerging renaissance of the UK's nuclear sector. New nuclear power stations are to be built to further the country's transition to sustainable and low-carbon balanced energy. Research carried out by Cogent has found that, for an upheaval in the UK's nuclear industry, about 1,000 people will need to be recruited annually - and many of those will be apprentices and graduates.
Ben Hough, department manager of energy at Matchtech, has observed, in words quoted by The Engineer: "In essence, employers have to look to every source of talent to fill the skills gaps now."
How students can engineer new paths... to become engineers
Nuclear engineers will be instrumental in the construction of these new nuclear power stations. They will have various crucial responsibilities, as outlined on the National Careers Service website . These responsibilities will include designing and building plants and equipment, conducting maintenance work, and taking care of safety and security. They are tasked with safely running nuclear power stations. So, how can a student become a nuclear engineer?
They can take a course in a suitable scientific or technical subject, such as chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, maths or physics. They can choose to enrol on a HNC, HND, foundation degree or full degree. After completing their course, they could join a graduate training scheme and, for jobs requiring it, pass security checks. There are, however, particular skills that they will need for working as a nuclear engineer. These skills include effective problem-solving, analysis, planning, organising, written and spoken communication, and management of projects, budgets and individuals.
Keep yourself updated about the nuclear sector
Has reading this article piqued your interest in joining the ranks of the UK's nuclear industry? If so, you could maintain a good know-how of what is happening in the country's nuclear sector by following our Twitter page . We regularly update it with news of interest and information that will be relevant to you.