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Bidding for government contracts in the nuclear industry can be a complex process, with the main contracts planned months or even years in advance in line with government infrastructure and careful mitigation. However, the UK’s nuclear industry has a large and diverse supply chain, supporting the three main areas of operation:

Nuclear new build: There are plans to develop five sites in the UK to produce new nuclear capacity in the next few years, creating many opportunities for UK subcontractors. For example, at Hinkley Point C, contracts awarded so far are worth over £1.3 billion, 64% of which has gone to UK companies. The sites are being developed by three consortia, which each has its own portal for suppliers to register and access opportunities.

Nuclear generation: The UK’s eight currently active nuclear power stations are operated by EDF Energy, which provides guidance for potential suppliers here.

Decommissioning: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is managing the decommissioning of 17 sites across the UK. The British nuclear decommissioning industry generates more than £1.7 billion of business per year for UK plc, and over 21% is spent with SMEs, with NDA intending to increase this to 31% by 2020, an indication of the opportunities available.

The NDA’s spend is across four ‘tiers’ of contractors

  • Tier one – the site licence companies (SLC) appointed by NDA to manage the decommissioning of sites
  • Tier two companies, directly contracted by the SLC
  • Tier three and four suppliers, subcontracted by a tier two company to provide a service.

The NDA has set out contractual terms that are required to be ‘flowed down’ from tier one companies to those subcontracted (or sub-subcontracted) to deliver services.

Supply chain standards

Supply Chain Charter has been developed by the NDA, promoting effective working relationships across the supply chain in the nuclear industry. Suppliers are encouraged to sign up to the charter, which provides principles for mutually beneficial procurement and relationships. Additionally, the tier one site licence companies (SLCs) managing the decommissioning of nuclear sites may implement their own set of principles or requirements. Sellafield Ltd, for example, has a robust set of quality standards, exceeding the specifications of ISO9001:2015, setting a clear expectation for its supply chain.

The Fit for Nuclear accreditation programme has been designed by the Nuclear AMRC, to support suppliers to enter the industry. After completing an assessment process to demonstrate their nuclear capabilities, accredited companies are added to an online directory of ‘nuclear-ready’ suppliers.

How we can help you bid for nuclear contracts

When faced with a two-year tender process to bid for framework contracts at Sellafield, KAEFER Ltd appointed our expert bid writers to manage the bid process and write the tender responses.

The contracts were for access and insulation services with six site licence companies operating on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority: Sellafield Ltd, Magnox Ltd, RSRL, DSRL, NNL and Springfield Fuels.

Our team worked closely with KAEFER to develop a thorough understanding of the organisation, taking its expertise and experience and translating that into a comprehensive and compelling bid. The resultant bid was successful, securing contracts totalling potentially £380 million. The contract, which commenced in 2013, covers sixteen nuclear sites in the UK and will utilise local labour and suppliers, employing innovative techniques and processes which have been proven at KAEFER sites across Europe.

Paul Hoyle, Operations Director for KAEFER, said: “we are obviously delighted that the quality of our work, our proposals for innovative working and the professionalism and experience of our people has been recognised by us being awarded this prestigious contract. It further enhances our reputation within the industry and reinforces our intention to continue to grow the business via the competitive tendering process.”

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