Interesting Times

by BVAA Director, Rob Bartlett

Despite the ongoing mayhem in the stock markets, most members are fortunately still reporting a reassuringly buoyant market for UK valves and actuators at the moment. It seems inevitable that there will be a trickle-down effect at some point, but right now our members are still extremely busy.

Likewise BVAA have had a very busy autumn too, where we have recently completed another series of association meetings, events and training courses. We have also just returned from very exhausting few days at Valve World Expo in Maastricht, Netherlands, where we were delighted to meet so many readers of ‘Valve User’ magazine.

Standards-making is also enjoying something of a mini revival at the moment, with standards meetings for actuators, industrial valves and safety devices all recently taking place with strong UK involvement. There is however a lamentable lack of user input in standards making, and we would like to encourage and help ‘Valve Users’ to get involved.

Remember – Valve User is your magazine, and we always welcome your input.

alternatives solutions that may shape our future. Here in the UK we have what is described as a ‘wind rich’ environment. However the UK has just a handful of wind farms and thus has yet to sufficiently harness this ‘free’ resource to make a significant contribution to our growing energy needs. As for solar power [see cover], there will need to be significant additional global warming before this ever becomes a realistic prospect in rain-lashed Britain!

The New Year has however already heralded two very significant developments in the field of UK energy.

The first concerns the possibility of the first new coal-powered power station to be built in the UK for decades. Approval for a new ‘clean coal’ plant at Kingsnorth, Kent, moved a step closer in January with the local council approving EON’s proposed development. This must seem very insignificant to our readers whose Government’s have more enlightened energy plans, but in the UK this is ‘hot news’ as our last new build was 24 years ago, and even that was in Northern Ireland! Several other high-technology coal plants are said to be planned for the UK in the coming years. The UK Government now has the lead in deciding the future of all these plants - let’s hope they get on with it.

Secondly, the UK Government - at last - gave approval for the building of new ‘Nuclear’ power stations in the UK.* There will not be any Government funding for any such plants however - highly relevant when it is known that no nuclear power station has ever been built without such support. Energy supplier EDF has manfully stepped into the breach however and immediately announced plans for four new nuclear plants in the UK, hopefully coming on-line some time around 2017. EON and Centrica are rumoured to have similar plans for new builds. It is thought these will all be built on existing nuclear sites in England and Wales. There will, of course, be the usual legal challenges, but it’s worth noting that by 2020 the UK energy scene will be nearly bereft of serviceable nuclear power stations due to scheduled closures, with many of our existing coal plants going the same way. With a third of all UK power stations nearing the end of their useful life, there’s not much time for procrastination.

Finally, let’s not forget the role of traditional and much-maligned coal-fired power stations. BVAA recently visited the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site, whose total life-span is now estimated at 65 years, where 80% of the fuel comes from job-creating UK coal mines, and where virtually every by-product is recycled and then utilized - in the millions of tonnes - by the construction and civil engineering industries. Now that is impressive.

*Editor’s Note: BVAA played a role in appraising the UK Government’s advisors as to the nuclear capability in the UK valve industry, and we would be delighted to discuss future valve requirements with any of the contractors and operators involved.

BVAA has a new Chairman. We bid a fond farewell at the BVAA AGM in November 2007 to our outgoing Chairman, Mr David Caines. David has been deeply involved in the association for over 30 years, and his ‘tour’ as Chairman was the longest in our 70 year history. His steadying hand came at a time when the association underwent a number of radical changes, including a change of scope and name, staff changes and relocation of the BVAA HQ. In his retirement, David can look back at a rejuvenated, financially stable BVAA, with its highest ever membership – an enviable record!

As we move forward into 2008, we welcome our new Chairman, Rotork’s CEO Mr Bill Whiteley, who will be BVAA’s first Chairman from the actuator side of the industry. All the BVAA staff are very much looking forward to working with Bill, who recently commented,

‘It is an honour to become chairman of the BVAA, an organisation I have been involved with since Rotork joined in the early 1990s. I have found it interesting serving as vice-chairman for the past 15 years and have been an enthusiastic supporter of David Caines’ moves to re-energise the Association and broaden its appeal. It’s been a pleasure working with David and I would like to thank him on behalf of the BVAA for his huge contribution to the organization, especially for the past six years as its Chairman. I look forward to working closely with Rob and serving the membership.’

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 8

Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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