Prudential says it is “highly unlikely” to invest in Sizewell C

Press statement, 13 May 2021

At today’s Prudential AGM, Chair Baroness Vadera stated in response to a question from Stop Sizewell C; “As an Asia and Africa focused group going forward, Sizewell is highly unlikely to be the sort of project we will directly invest in.” [1] The reply followed Aviva reiterating at its AGM last week that the ESG impact of nuclear is “at this time still far from clear” and confirming they are not actively involved in any such investments. [2] Earlier in the year, Legal & General told a pension fund holder that they will not be investing in Sizewell C. [3]

Environmental, social and governance issues are all flagged by the Sizewell C project, in addition to the reputational risk attached to such a controversial investment. EDF’s financial advisers Rothschild & C recently said: “[Funds] are worried about what their ultimate investors think, what their pensioners think (if it’s a pension fund) or their savers… These are going to be big, high-profile investments that investors do not want to be controversial.” [4] EDF acknowledges in its 2020 financial report that Sizewell C depends on “the existence of an appropriate regulatory and financing framework, and on the sufficient availability of investors and funders interested in the project. To date, none of these conditions are met.” [5]

Alison Downes said: “Government should take note that big investors are shying away from Sizewell C, even with the proposed RAB mechanism, where consumers and government would be made to shoulder much of the risk. It would be better for the Government, and the UK’s net zero ambitions, to focus on green, more sustainable, cheaper and quicker energy projects, and consign Sizewell C to the dark ages where it belongs.”

UK Minister Lord Grimstone recently said he was speaking to “all” sovereign wealth and overseas pension funds about investing in UK energy infrastructure but also admitted to the Financial Times “it’s by no means certain this country is going to be building large nuclear power stations”.

Stop Sizewell C maintains the project would conflict with Pension Funds’ ESG policies for the following reasons:

  • Sizewell C is not needed. The Climate Change Committee included just 5GW in three out of five energy scenarios in its 6th carbon budget, achievable by completing Hinkley Point C and extending the life of Sizewell B. [6] National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt has said “Hopefully by 2025, we will be able to rely on much smarter systems and won’t have to rely on nuclear”. CCC Chair Lord Deben says the need for nuclear reduces as grid balancing improves. [7]

  • Sizewell C cannot help the UK’s new target of 78% reduction in emissions by 2035. EDF has increased its prediction of CO2 emitted during the construction period from 5.7Mt (May 2020) to 6.3Mt (January 2021). EDF admits this would take 6 years to pay back, assuming the equivalent energy was generated by the expected energy mix of the 2030s. With an estimated start date of 2034, Sizewell C would not therefore contribute to net zero until 2040. [8]  Since EPR reactors are slow to build and prone to delays – with the few reactors under construction well over budget and overrun [9] – the UK will likely have completed the energy transition by the time Sizewell C is finished.

  • The RAB model would transfer construction risk to consumers and contribute to fuel poverty, with consumers paying up front for a decade before any energy is generated. It’s unclear whether or how they would get their money back if Sizewell C was abandoned before completion, as US nuclear projects have been. [10]

  • Sizewell C’s 3.2GW of power would cost at least £20 billion compared to an estimate of £50bn by Aurora Energy Research for 30GW – nearly ten times this capacity – in offshore wind. [11] Investment in Sizewell C would suck vital resources from renewables or future technologies such as green hydrogen storage.

  • Nuclear energy is not green. There is still no long-term solution to the storage of nuclear waste. The spent fuel from the EPR high burn-up reactor is hotter than other reactors and would need to stay on the eroding Suffolk coastline for a century. [12]

  • Ownership of Sizewell C is unclear. With EDF likely to be reduced to a very small stake or build- only contract, future governance is very murky. The government must decide what, if any, role EDF’s controversial development partner – China General Nuclear – would be allowed to play.

  • The Sizewell C site is surrounded by protected wildlife habitats. It is wholly within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Construction would cut the AONB in half for a decade. The site adjoins internationally famous RSPB Minsmere reserve, and part of Sizewell Marshes Site of Scientific Interest with its rare fen habitat would be lost forever.

  • There is considerable local opposition. Communities would have to bear the brunt of impacts including an extra 12,000 vehicles a day and an influx of 6,000 workers into the area.


  1.  Stop Sizewell C videod the question and response which is available on request. The question, tabled by Alison Reynolds (Downes) was “ I applaud Prudential’s commitment to addressing climate change and looking to support future technologies, but the Sizewell C nuclear project cannot help the UK reach 78% reductions in CO2 by 2035. It has a 10+ year build time, even without delays, for which the EPR nuclear reactors are notorious. According to EDF’s own calculations, Sizewell C would not offset the CO2 emitted during construction for a further 6 years, ie around 2040. Besides radioactive waste and safety issues other ESG concerns include the dependency upon consumers to pay a RAB tariff to facilitate the risky £20 billion pound construction, for years before any electricity is generated; governance questions about ownership of the project, including China’s involvement; and impacts on the internationally protected wildlife habitats and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that the site is within. Sizewell C is a highly controversial project, and investing in it could damage Prudential’s reputation so I ask for your confirmation that you will not invest in Sizewell C. “

  2. Stop Sizewell C also has video of this reply which is available on request. See also

  3. Sunday Telegraph, 20 February: Sizewell C proves to be a turn-off for City giant Legal & General.

  4. Stephen Vaughan at a recent World Nuclear Association webinar, as reported by World Nuclear News

  5. EDF 2020 Annual Report, page 15. (Note that consumers are not considered.) “Securing the appropriate risk-sharing mechanism and ultimately the corresponding financing structure ahead of the FID is therefore key for the project, the UK Government and the current shareholders. EDF’s ability to make a FID on Sizewell C and to participate in the financing of this project beyond the development phase could depend on the operational control of the Hinkley Point C project, on the existence of an appropriate regulatory and financing framework, and on the sufficient availability of investors and funders interested in the project. To date, none of these conditions are met.“

  6. Sixth Carbon Budget. The 5GW including the life extension of Sizewell B is acknowledged by BEIS

  7. See NIC Chair John Armitt in Utility Week and (CCC) Chair Lord Deben describes nuclear as a transitional energy source, also in UW.

  8. See Page 27 of EDF’s (revised) application for Development Consent

  9. Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland are both a decade late and multiple times overspent. Hinkley Point is both late and several £billion overspent.

  10. A RAB-type model for a cancelled plant in the US is costing ratepayers $2.3bn.

  11. As reported in The Guardian, October 2020.

  12. Sizewell C’s spent fuel store would not be decommissioned until 2140.