Cannington Court becomes EDF energy training hub

EDF Cannington Court Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption Ground source heat pumps and solar panels have been installed

A 12th Century Benedictine nunnery in Somerset has opened as a new training hub for the energy firm, EDF Energy.

The Grade I listed buildings at Cannington Court have been restored over the past three years.

Staff will use the base to develop skills in smart metering, new nuclear projects, finance and human resources.

Chief executive officer Vincent de Rivaz, said: "We are committed to developing the new skills and ideas to build a low-carbon society."

Cannington Court is owned by Bridgwater College and has been leased to EDF Energy.

When it is not used by EDF staff, the college will make use of the facilities for its students.

EDF has used sustainable energy sources, such as ground source heat pumps and solar panels, to provide 50% of the building's power.

At the scene, BBC business correspondent, Dave Harvey:

On the face of it, a new training centre for a multi-national company is not big news.

For the staff and the managers, it was certainly a big day in Cannington, as the French chief exec drove into Somerset with a government minister to do the honours. But for the rest of us?

Well the opening of EDF's new national training centre is significant, for two reasons. One, it underlines the company's commitment to Somerset. As Vincent de Rivaz told me, they want to bring staff from Scotland, Suffolk and the South East to learn nuclear technology in Cannington.

It matters also because it demonstrates how confident EDF was that Hinkley C would be approved. Vincent de Rivaz approved the multimillion-pound hub four years ago, before Hinkley C even had planning permission. He knew there were hurdles, but he never doubted it would go ahead.

We are now told Hinkley C's final investment decision, the absolutely last green light, will come before Christmas. Mr de Rivaz is clearly losing no sleep over that decision.

Cannington Court was also previously a Catholic industrial school for boys and an agricultural college.

Last month, EDF Energy confirmed it had reached an agreement with Chinese state-run energy firm China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) on their level of investment for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.

Although CGN has confirmed it will pay £6bn towards the cost, EDF has not yet announced its final investment decision.

Once this is confirmed the nuclear build will go ahead but, due to the long delays in the project, the plant will not be generating power in 2023 as initially planned.

Anti-nuclear campaigners say the nuclear build deal is over-priced and will result in higher electricity bills for consumers. They also say nuclear power is unsafe and unsustainable.

Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption Staff will be trained in a number of areas such as human resources and smart metering

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