The UK’s Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) has secured £140M of funding to place the UK at the forefront of global nuclear power production.

SFIL, which is a key supplier to the UK defence industry, has secured the final part of the funding package by way of a Government loan, enabling it to install the country's first 15kt forging press to make ultra-large nuclear components.

The announcement to agree the £80M funding, was made by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson at the Sheffield company's site. The Government's package complements other contributions by key partners of SFIL, including leading nuclear power-plant manufacturer Westinghouse.

The funding agreement places the world's only independently-owned forgemaster in pole-position to capitalise on huge international demand for safety critical forgings as it joins a group of only five companies capable of producing the largest components for nuclear power reactors.

The demand for heavy nuclear forgings is set to more than triple by 2020, reaching 70kt, with worldwide capacity only able to supply 59kt over the same timescale.

The average nuclear construction rate between 2010 and 2030 is expected to be 13 new reactors a year. A report in 2009 by business analyst, Frost & Sullivan, highlighted the issues that such disparity between supply and demand demonstrates.

It stated that the main downside of an increase in nuclear projects concerned the availability of heavy equipment and long lead times. The majority of equipment for new generation plants currently comes from international suppliers and nuclear-related entities which have been working at full capacity.

SFIL is the only UK company carrying ASME certification to manufacture civil nuclear castings and forgings and is already providing many components to the civil nuclear industry and the defence industry, enabling it to roll out production of the largest forgings within as little three years from the 15kt press' installation.

The 10 year agreement, which helps see the protection of future SFIL markets in the sub-continent, will mainly serve India's rapidly growing domestic market for turbine and power generation products.