Government gives green light on Sizewell C nuclear power station

Boris gives the green light on £20bn Sizewell C nuclear plant: Government opens talks with French energy giant EDF on funding Suffolk power station

  • Government will negotiate with EDF on the £20bn nuclear plant’s construction 
  • Update comes amid fears that China could pull out of the nuclear plant project 
  • EDF say plant could meet seven per cent of UK energy’s demand when running  

The government has opened talks with energy firm EDF on the construction of the £20 billion Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk. 

Sizewell C would be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset and could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity when in comes into service in th 2030s – enough for around 7 per cent of the UK’s power demand. 

The government said today it would enter into negotiations with French giant EDF – though any deal would need to be affordable and value for money.

In a statement, the government said the negotiations were part of its ‘options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament’. 

The project has proven controversial, with some campaigners slamming its £20 billion cost.

The Stop Sizewell C campaign group which opposes the scheme warned it is costly, diverting investment from other green energy sources such as renewables and would damage tourism and nature in the area. 

But EDF claim it will generate enough ‘always-on’ low-carbon electricity to power six million homes and create 25,000 jobs, back in May. 

The government has opened talks with EDF energy for the construction of the £20 billion Sizewell C (lighter grey on the right, next to Sizewell B) nuclear plant in Suffolk 

The energy giant is currently applying for planning permission for the 3.2-gigawatt plant.

In a statement, which also set out its Energy White Paper, the Government said: ‘This is the next step in considering the Sizewell C project, and negotiations will be subject to reaching a value-for-money deal and all other relevant approvals, before any final decision is taken on whether to proceed.

‘The successful conclusion of these negotiations will be subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy the Government’s robust legal, regulatory and national security requirements.’

The White Paper set out plans to transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

Sizewell C will provide 900 skilled jobs over its operating lifetime and support UK energy resilience by meeting seven percent of its demand for electricity, thus reducing the need for imports, EDF said. 

Today’s update comes after it was revealed that China was considering pulling out of the Sizewell C nuclear plant.

The country’s nuclear agency, China General Nuclear Power (CGN), is planning to duck out of the next phase of the £20billion project, claim industry sources.

CGN holds a 20 per cent stake in the Suffolk plant and has spent years developing it with French energy giant EDF.

The agency has not revealed how much it has invested in the Sizewell C development phase, though it is estimated to be hundreds of millions.

Its departure at the construction stage could leave a huge hole in the project’s funding – and could deal another body blow to the Government’s energy strategy.

The reports come as tensions between London and Beijing have flared since the Government’s decision to exclude Huawei’s equipment being used in new 5G networks.

The recent clampdown on foreign investment and takeover rules have also added to the hostility.

An industry source said: ‘If the UK were to lose Chinese know-how in nuclear it would be a shame given their expertise in building and operating the reactors that would be used at Sizewell C.’

EDF submitted proposals for Sizewell C in 2012 and CGN signed on as a partner in 2016.

The pair are also working together on Hinkley Point C and on plans for another plant in Bradwell, Essex.

They had been hoping to start building Sizewell C in early 2022. It is estimated the plant could create 25,000 jobs and the Sizewell C consortium, a group of businesses and unions, have said it is crucial for supporting the nuclear industry’s supply chain and preserving skills learnt at Hinkley Point C.

The Government is under pressure to unveil a detailed strategy for the nuclear industry as a number of plants come offline in the early 2020s amid fears the UK could suffer blackouts by the early 2030s. 

Ambitious plans have so far fallen flat and of six sites earmarked for new sites to replace the ageing nuclear fleet more than a decade ago only one, Hinkley Point C, is being built.

The latest of a string of setbacks came in September, when Japanese group Hitachi pulled out of the Wylfa project on Anglesey in North Wales. 

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