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The award by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the EU organisation responsible for Europe's contribution to the world's biggest fusion energy project, is the largest nuclear robotics contract ever awarded to a UK company.Amec Foster Wheeler is leading the project with support from a host of other specialists, including the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, Reel SAS of France and Walischmiller Engineering of Germany.Jon Montgomerie (pictured), Chief Engineer on the contract, said that the nuclear fission industry has used remote handling in various forms right from its inception and that technology has evolved so that it better meets the increasing needs.A prestigious seven-year contract at the ITER fusion reactor in the South of France further highlights Amec Foster Wheeler's skill and expertise in the field of robotics handling."In Amec Foster Wheeler we have delivered a number of projects through robotic handling but this seven-year contract, worth around €70 million, is a major step forward for us."ITER will, in very simple terms, recreate the reaction that is going on in the centre of the sun held within a vacuum and constrained by large magnetic fields. "This creates an environment inaccessible to people, so remote handling systems need to be created to allow all sorts of tasks to be performed."Jon said that, over the projected seven year development and delivery phase, hundreds of people will need to be involved with a wider variety of skills.He added: "Once installed and commissioned, the system will be operated by ITER staff, trained by us, working from a control room safely shielded from the environment of the neutral beam cell and about 100 metres away from it. "All operations will not only be carried out remotely but also viewed remotely and monitoring operations will be entirely by CCTV."The feasibility of fusion as an energy source will be verified by the functioning of the ITER experiment itself and ultimately proven by the follow up plant – called DEMO – which will be the world's first prototype fusion power station.Robots take big step forward on the road to fusion13

14Feature"If, as everybody hopes, EDF builds at Sizewell after Hinkley, the whole of the supply chain for the EPR will be swallowed up by those projects. But it is possible to build the Hitachi-GE and Westinghouse designs in parallel with the EPR."Building three Westinghouse AP1000s at Moorside, Cumbria, will hone the supply chain's skills on that design, while taking the Hitachi-GE UK ABWR through its Generic Design Assessment will provide another learning curve. UK companies can then fi nd a market for all of these skills and experiences in many countries which are also about to embark on new build.Amec Foster Wheeler's Environment and Infrastructure business is carrying out site characterisation work for NuGen, the owner-operator of the Moorside development. E&I's results will feed directly into the environmental impact assessments supporting the Development Consent Order for the site.Dame Sue Ion is credited with changing Tony Blair's mind about nuclear power.She describes that statement as 'a bit of an exaggeration' but there is no doubt that when face-to-face with the then Prime Minister, the straight-talking northerner played her part in convincing the government not to put all its eggs in the renewables basket."It was obvious that he already understood, so there wasn't really any need to persuade him," she recalls. "But we were living with the aftermath of the White Papers from the turn of the century, and it was important to show that the idea you could hit carbon reduction targets without nuclear was completely, utterly barking from an engineering point of view."Much has changed since then and Dame Sue, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, believes that the UK's nuclear sector is now on the threshold of a new era of opportunity.And she argues that the chosen method of procuring the new build that the country needs will play a big role in making it all possible."If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said we need one system, fl eet-built, with a smooth transition from one site to another and opportunities for the supply chain to learn from experience."But now, when we want to build eight or nine units in short order, I think it's a better solution for the UK to have three diff erent reactor types on the go, all with slightly diff erent supply chains.New build and a distinctive approach to regulation should combine to bring prosperity to the UK supply chain, says the Government's top nuclear advisor Good times ahead for UK nuclear Cutaway of the AP1000 reactor planned for MoorsideDame Sue Ion