East­ern pow­er­house

EDF’s Jim Craw­ford on Sizewell C and Suf­folk’s eco­nomic po­ten­tial

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

JIM Craw­ford is our friend elec­tric. When you switch on your lights tonight or turn on your elec­tric cooker to make din­ner, you can thank peo­ple like him. Cur­rently EDF En­ergy’s pro­ject de­vel­op­ment direc­tor for the pro­posed Sizewell C power sta­tion on the Suf­folk coast, Jim’s ca­reer has been ded­i­cated to keep­ing the lights on and the cook­ers work­ing.

A Scot by birth and a chemist by pro­fes­sion, Jim joined the elec­tri­cal sup­ply in­dus­try from univer­sity as a grad­u­ate trainee. “Al­though I couldn’t, at first, work out why an elec­tric­ity com­pany wanted a chemist,” he says. “The joy for me is that my em­ploy­ers have given me the op­por­tu­nity to do lots of dif­fer­ent things. I worked in re­search for two or three years and then got a job at the Tor­ness sta­tion on the east Scot­tish coast, as they were get­ting close to fin­ish­ing the con­struc­tion.

“Since then, in­clud­ing a few years at the cor­po­rate cen­tre, I worked in var­i­ous tech­ni­cal, train­ing and busi­ness roles be­fore go­ing back to Tor­ness as op­er­a­tions man­ager. Then for seven years I was at Sizewell B, firstly as plant man­ager and then as sta­tion direc­tor.”

Jim’s time at Sizewell B gave him a real sense of achieve­ment. “The team we built and the peo­ple we had there meant we achieved world class per­for­mance in safety and re­li­a­bil­ity – 499 days of safe and con­tin­u­ous en­ergy gen­er­a­tion, help­ing us es­tab­lish a new record for power pro­duc­tion for a nu­clear power sta­tion in the UK. It was a fan­tas­tic time and they were a per­fect team to lead. It was all fine when I walked away and still con­tin­ues to be so un­der the lead­er­ship of Paul Mor­ton.”

The Sizewell C pro­ject – like that at Hink­ley Point C in Som­er­set – is a part­ner­ship with China Gen­eral Nu­clear. Even though it is es­ti­mated that if and when both are op­er­a­tional they will gen­er­ate 13% of the UK’s elec­tric­ity needs, both have been char­ac­terised by op­po­si­tion from a broad coali­tion of groups, and un­cer­tainty around the cost of the en­ergy that will be gen­er­ated. Jim’s not hav­ing any of this de­featism.

“I think the key thing to re­mem­ber, espe­cially when you read some of the things in the press about elec­tric cars, is that this com­pany will have a key role in help­ing the coun­try meet its cli­mate change tar­gets, and cre­ate a de­car­bonised econ­omy and so­ci­ety.

The com­pany is look­ing to build a ‘fleet’ of third gen­er­a­tion pres­surised wa­ter re­ac­tors. “EDF En­ergy has a great op­por­tu­nity to build to­wards what the coun­try is try­ing to achieve start­ing with Hink­ley Point C, fol­lowed by Sizewell C and then onto Brad­well B in Es­sex.”

In ef­fect, Jim be­lieves that the learn­ing from the new Som­er­set sta­tion, al­ready un­der con­struc­tion, will ex­pe­dite mat­ters and lower costs when – or rather if – Sizewell C gets the go-ahead. “The big­gest strate­gic ad­van­tage that Sizewell C has is Hink­ley Point C. Don’t

‘The team we built and the peo­ple we had there meant we achieved world class per­for­mance in safety and re­li­a­bil­ity’

for­get this is the first sta­tion we’ve built in this coun­try for 25 years. We are restart­ing an in­dus­try and the sup­ply chain that sup­ports it. We will take about 80% of Hink­ley’s de­sign and bring it here. The re­main­ing 20% is needed be­cause things such as the coast­line and ge­ol­ogy are dif­fer­ent.” Pre­sum­ably the level of op­po­si­tion is not that dif­fer­ent ei­ther. Jim re­mains un­flus­tered.

“The ex­pe­ri­ences in Hink­ley cer­tainly al­low us to learn from things that went re­ally well and the things that, if we had our time again, we’d just tweak that a lit­tle bit.” But he is keen to put the new power sta­tion into a much big­ger con­text.

“Peo­ple have this per­cep­tion of Suf­folk as be­ing a sleepy part of the coun­try. Yet we’ve al­ready got Sizewell B – which will be around for an­other 35 or 40 years con­tribut­ing to our low car­bon en­ergy mix – the wind­farms and off­shore oil and gas in­stal­la­tions. Peo­ple talk about the North­ern Pow­er­house, but the East

of Eng­land is go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic place for busi­ness.

“We can offer lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties a great deal in terms of job op­por­tu­ni­ties – there will be 25,000 roles in­volved in its con­struc­tion, with 900 in the long term once the sta­tion is gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity.”

There are also op­por­tu­ni­ties for Suf­folk busi­nesses to win con­tracts both dur­ing the build­ing of Sizewell C and once it is up and run­ning. Jim is im­pressed with the ap­proach of Suf­folk Cham­ber of Com­merce in help­ing to fa­cil­i­tate these op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The Cham­ber has helped us by es­tab­lish­ing a sup­ply chain website. We’ve now got over 1,000 com­pa­nies reg­is­tered, which is great as it gives us the op­por­tu­nity to get the views of lo­cal sup­pli­ers as to what they need from us to work to­gether in a con­struc­tive way. Imag­ine the ef­fort in­volved for us to touch base with 1,000 dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers, so it’s great that the Cham­ber has con­sol­i­dated all of that.”

So should Sizewell C go ahead, the fu­ture will be rosy for lo­cal work­ers and busi­nesses. But what about com­mu­ni­ties around the site? How does he re­spond to the ac­cu­sa­tion that the re­cently com­pleted sec­ond stage of con­sul­ta­tion into Sizewell C didn’t offer enough de­tail for peo­ple to re­ally com­ment upon? Jim ex­plains that the com­pany in­serted this as an ad­di­tional stage as it felt it was nec­es­sary given the length of time that has elapsed since the first stage.

“We were de­lighted with the level of re­sponse, and will be spend­ing the rest of this year analysing the feed­back so we can shape our pro­pos­als for the third and fi­nal stage of con­sul­ta­tion be­fore we set out our plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.” And if Sizewell C is built, what kind of neigh­bour will Jim and his team be?

“One of the things that struck me when I was at Sizewell B was the re­la­tion­ship with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly with those re­ally close to the power sta­tion. We met twice a year at the vis­i­tor cen­tre to fos­ter an open and trans­par­ent two-way re­la­tion­ship. This was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when the sta­tion was about to shut down for main­te­nance and re­fu­elling work, which led to over 1,000 ex­tra work­ers at the site.

“The lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment around the power sta­tion has flour­ished as a re­sult of the way Sizewell B has man­aged it in part­ner­ship with Suf­folk Wildlife Trust. I’m very proud of EDF En­ergy’s ap­proach. Ob­vi­ously, we do what we do be­cause we are a busi­ness, but we take our moral and eth­i­cal role as an em­ployer, and as a neigh­bour, very se­ri­ously in­deed.”

“We’ve now got over 1,000 com­pa­nies reg­is­tered, which is great as it gives us the op­por­tu­nity to get the views of lo­cal sup­pli­ers as to what they need from us to work to­gether in a con­struc­tive way”

The fu­ture site of the Sizewell C pro­ject is next to Sizewell B’s dome. The fu­ture site of the Sizewell C pro­ject is next to Sizewell B’s dome.

Wind tur­bines could be­come a com­mon sight on the Felixs­towe penin­sula.

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