EADT 27 January 2022: Government pledges £100million for Sizewell C on Suffolk coast

Read online https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/business/sizewellc-nuclear-project-government-funding-8648632

Plans to build a new nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast took a significant step forward today with the awarding of £100million in new financial support.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced the Government funding for the continued development of the planned Sizewell C twin reactor.

The £20billion nuclear plant – which has yet to get planning approval – would produce 3.2 Gigawatts of electricity, enough to power six million homes.

The funding would aim to continue development of the project and attract further financing from private investors.

Government ministers have made a commitment to reach a final investment decision on funding at least one new nuclear plant in this parliament.

The new plant will aim to provide continuous low carbon electricity, strengthen Britain’s energy security and reduce the country’s exposure to volatile global gas prices.

Talks between the government and the Sizewell C project developer have been continuing since last year.

Mr Kwarteng said: “In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low carbon power that is generated in this country

“New nuclear is not only an important part of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth.

“The funding announced today will further support the development of Sizewell C during this important phase of negotiations as we seek to maximise investor confidence in this nationally significant project.”

As a result of this new funding package the government will take certain rights over the Sizewell C site and EDF’s shares in the Sizewell C company.

This would allow the opportunity to continue to develop a nuclear option or alternative low carbon energy project on the site.

If the final go ahead for Sizewell C is given, the government will have the £100m reimbursed with a financial return in cash or an equity stake in the project.

EDF Energy CEO Simone Rossi said he was pleased that the Government was showing confidence in Sizewell C which would “lower energy costs for consumers and help to insulate the UK from global gas prices”.

He said: “Together with our own investment, these funds will allow us to continue to move the project towards a financial investment decision.

“Sizewell C will benefit from being a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset which is more than five years into construction and making great progress in the challenging context of the Covid pandemic.

“Sizewell C will provide a huge economic boost to East Suffolk where it already enjoys the support of most local people. It will also bring new opportunities for thousands of nuclear supply chain companies up and down the country.”

The announcement came as the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, which will allow a new funding model for new nuclear projects passes through parliament.

The news was welcomed by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who said: “Nuclear power as a low carbon energy source is a key strand of the government’s plan to achieve net zero by 2050. And whilst there are various matters still to be decided in the planning application – will also be of huge benefit locally – with high quality jobs and economic gain.”

Energy union GMB welcomed the funding. National officer Charlotte Childs welcomed the news as a “massive huge stride towards a low carbon UK.”

She said: “We face an unprecedented energy crisis and we need nuclear projects like Sizewell C to protect consumers, workers and our planet.

“GMB has worked closely with EDF throughout the development of Sizewell and look forward to the more detail discussions needed to shape industrial relations in the future.

“Net zero needs new nuclear and we are proud GMB members will be part of the team that brings low carbon energy to the UK.”

But anti-nuclear campaigners attacked the move. Greenpeace UK’s policy director Dr Doug Parr claimed: “This cash injection is a tacit admission by the Government that nuclear is not commercially viable, but they are so fixated on getting 20th-century nuclear technology delivered they’ll just keep throwing taxpayers’ money at it.

“Including all the other subsidy sources, Sizewell C will now have subsidised development, subsidised construction, subsidised power production and subsidised waste management, for a project by a subsidised company.”

Alison Downes, Stop Sizewell C, said: “It’s extraordinary that the government would give Sizewell C financial backing when the problems at Taishan raise legitimate questions about whether EDF’s EPR reactor works safely.

“Any direct government support seems to compromise the role of the Secretary of State in determining the Sizewell C planning application. We fail to understand why the UK is bailing out crisis-hit EDF, and why the government is so committed to poor value large scale nuclear when there are other, better options.”