Bridgwater College’s brand-new £multi-million Energy Skills Centre was officially opened this morning.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change MP Chris Huhne formally opened the state-of-the-art centre in front of more than 100 guests.

His presentation was followed by speeches from Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive for EDF Energy, David Bonser, chairman of the National Skills Academy (Nuclear), and Bridgwater College principal Fiona McMillan.

During his presentation, Mr Huhne said: “The nuclear industry already employs more than 6,000 people in the South-West, that’s the second highest region in the UK and planned new nuclear build activity in this region means we will need to see an influx of people into the sector from apprentices, techs graduates with appropriate skills and competencies, and the work here in the energy centre will be crucial in delivering this.

“This new centre is a great place to inspire the young and deliver the skills, which are absolutely crucial for a career in this industry on our door step in our low carbon future.”

The centre, the first of its kind in the South-West, has been designed to meet the growing demand for training in science and engineering from employers in the area and boasts two realistic work environments for specialist training and simulated experiences.

It received £8million investment from EDF Energy, the nuclear branch of the National Skills Academy, the South-West Regional Development Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Guest speaker Vincent de Rivaz said the county has a fantastic opportunity to lead the low carbon industry, and Fiona McMillan added the college is “delighted” to be working with partners to establish impressive facilities and is grateful for sponsorship and funding support.