Government Funding To Turn Gloucestershire Nuclear Lab Into Green Tech Research Park

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Funding to transform former Nuclear Lab into centre for renewable energy and cyber security skills

A former Nuclear Laboratory at Berkeley near Bristol has gained additional government funding to transform it into the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park.

The idea is that the new centre will undertake research and teach young people renewable energy and cyber security skills.

Technology Park

The transformation of the Berkeley site will be an impressive change, considering the heritage of the location.

Berkeley had a early nuclear power station with two Magnox nuclear reactors, and it was the first commercial British reactor to enter operation. The power station has since been decommissioned and all that remains are the two reactors encased in concrete.

The administrative centre adjacent to the power station remained active as Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories, and was once considered to be the most advanced scientific research centre in the world.

Green cloud finger © Singkham ShutterstockBut now South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) has announced it has received a further £7m to transform the former nuclear lab into the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park. That funding is on top of the £5m funding that SGS gained to enable it to secure the former nuclear laboratory site and develop the Gloucestershire Renewable Energy, Engineering and Nuclear (GREEN) Skills Centre.

The new funding however will be used to fund two further specific projects to refurbish the existing buildings at Berkeley. Essentially, the money will allow for the creation of the Advanced Environmental Energy Research Centre (AERC) – a research centre for small-scale renewable energy generation and storage. It will also allow for another centre (if approved), which is geared towards the delivery of cyber security education and training.

Both projects are to be run in partnership between SGS and the University of Gloucestershire.

“This is tremendous news for Gloucestershire businesses and for the thousands of young people who will benefit from the education, training and research which will be undertaken at the site,” said Kevin Hamblin, Principal and Chief Executive of SGS College.

“SGS is an associate faculty of the University of Gloucestershire, so when the possibility of taking the lease on the former laboratories at Berkeley was initiated, we wanted to ensure that there was a variety of education and training available on the site,” said Hamblin, “This investment will provide invaluable resources to train the next generation of professionals in cyber security as well as provide research facilities for university staff and researchers to develop new means of micro power generation systems using wind, tide or solar.”

It is thought that the first renewable project will open in September 2016, followed by the cyber security centre in 2018. It should create 200 jobs on the site and train over 3,000 people a year.

Do you know about renewable energy?