The UK government has made available a further £341m ($434m) of previously allocated funding for development work on the Sizewell C NPP project in Suffolk. “The extra money will help prepare the site for construction, procuring key components from the project’s supply chain, and expanding its workforce,” the statement said.
This will support continued preparation works, such as constructing onsite training facilities for 1,500 apprenticeships, further development of the plant’s engineering design, and direct investments in the local community. The funding builds on the government’s existing £870m investment “and help drive progress towards the long-standing objective of reaching a Final Investment Decision on a new large-scale nuclear project this Parliament”.
The government said the funding would be confirmed according to the project’s agreed spending plans and development schedule. The funding is made available from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero’s Capital Budgets, as agreed at the 2022 Autumn Statement. In November 2022, the government established a £679m investment scheme, to fund Sizewell C’s continuing development and?£170m of additional funding was announced in July.
Sizewell C is expected to host two EPRs producing 3.2 GWe similar to the Hinkley Point C plant, under construction in Somerset. EDF Energy submitted a development consent order (a planning application) for the plant in May 2020, which was granted in July 2022. In March, the UK's Environment Agency granted environmental permits – a radioactive substances activity permit, a combustion activity permit and a water discharge activity permit – for the plant.
EDF said in November 2022 that construction of Sizewell C remained subject to a final investment decision and said that this depended on the achievement of certain key stages, in particular the ability to raise the necessary financing to carry out the project as well as “the deconsolidation of the project from the Group's balance sheet". EDF added that it planned to "retain only a minority stake in the final investment decision – a maximum of 20%" and hoped to make a final investment decision in 2023. Originally China General Nuclear (CGN) held a 20% stake in the project but in 2022 CGN pulled out of the project after the government paid £679m to become a 50% partner with EDF.
The new funding announcement “is a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to this vital project, and will mean the site will be shovel-ready, and work able to start, much more quickly”, said Minister for Nuclear & Networks Andrew Bowie.
“Sizewell C will be a significant part of the revival of nuclear energy in this country – providing clean, home-grown power to millions of homes, providing thousands of jobs and ending reliance on foreign electricity to bolster our energy security.” He added that this is the second tranche of planned government investment this summer, further supporting plans to secure private investment using the newly established Regulated Asset Base (RAB) finance model.
Sizewell C Company Joint Managing Director Julia Pyke, said the funding announcement “puts us in an even stronger position to start full construction”. She added: “It will also allow us to implement several community schemes over the next few months. We want people living near Sizewell C to see the benefits of the project as soon as possible and we’re looking forward to getting started on a range of proposals which will bring real improvements to the area well before the main construction gets underway.”
In April the government set a target of 24 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2050, meeting about 25% of the UK's projected electricity demand. This compares with about 6.5 GW of nuclear capacity today accounting for some 15% of its electricity.
Image: The Sizewell C site (courtesy of EDF Energy)