Sizewell C nuclear power station confirmed with £700m public stake | Energy industry

The government has confirmed that the Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk will go ahead, backing the project with a £700m stake.

Ministers said the move, first announced in Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement, would create 10,000 highly skilled jobs, provide reliable low-carbon energy to the equivalent of 6 million homes for more 50 years and would help ensure UK energy security.

The government also said it would set up an independent body, Great British Nuclear, which would develop a portfolio of nuclear projects beyond Sizewell C.

The Suffolk power station, developed by French energy company EDF, will be the second in a new generation of UK nuclear reactors, following the delayed Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, which is under construction but has faced delays and rising costs since it was first given the green light.

EDF chief executive Simone Rossi said replicating the Hinkley Point C design at Sizewell would provide more certainty on timing and costs, adding: ‘It will give another boost to jobs and skills in the nuclear industry and will provide huge new opportunities for Suffolk communities.

However, opponents of the scheme criticized the approval decision on cost and environmental grounds. Greenpeace UK Policy Director Doug Parr said: “The launch of Great British Nuclear is clearly ironic because New Nuclear is neither great nor British. Projects have been plagued by massive delays and inflated costs as the government seeks to finance Sizewell C – a French-designed and built reactor – with foreign investment funds.

“It is difficult to understand what is driving the government’s enthusiasm for new nuclear. It’s not cheap, clean, or necessary, because there are better, faster, and cheaper options for providing electricity. Not to mention that the technology is gradually becoming available to cover periods when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. On top of all this, there is no value for money assessment available for Sizewell C, so UK taxpayers are essentially buying it unseen.

A spokesperson for the Stop Sizewell C campaign said: ‘Sizewell C can neither reduce energy bills nor give the UK energy independence. Despite the Government’s meager £700million, there is still a huge amount of money to be found, and no one is ready to say clearly what the final cost will be.

Sizewell’s announcement comes after ministers also set out plans to cut energy demand by 15% by 2030, with a new £1billion Eco+ energy efficiency scheme and awareness campaign of the public – previously blocked under the administration of Liz Truss as being too “nanny state” – to save energy this winter.

It also comes as Rishi Sunak faces pressure, including from some Tory MPs, to backtrack on plans to keep England’s ban on onshore wind farms – one of the forms of cheapest energy.

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We need more clean and affordable energy produced within our borders… today’s landmark deal giving the government the Support for the development of Sizewell C is crucial in this regard, moving us forward towards greater energy independence.”

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Tom Greatrex hailed the announcement as “a watershed moment for UK energy security”. He said: “Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s largest green energy projects, reducing fossil fuels, providing clean and affordable energy for a very long time and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs.

“This investment, alongside support for Great British Nuclear and the Energy Security Bill, shows the Government is serious about building new nuclear capacity alongside renewables and paves the way for the development of a new nuclear projects, including small modular reactors, to strengthen energy independence.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “Today’s investment in Sizewell C represents the biggest step on our road to energy independence – the first state backing of a nuclear project in more than 30 years. year.

“Once complete, this mega project will power millions of homes with clean, affordable, local energy for decades to come.

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