UK confirms support for Sizewell C and buys out China’s stake

1 December 2022

UK Business Secretary Grant Shapps Shapps has visited the site of the planned Sizewell C NPP to be built by EDF and partners on the Suffolk coast. This came a few weeks after the Chancellor confirmed government funding of GBP679 million $821m) for the project during his Autumn Statement. The government's investment is for the early stage development of the plans, with the plant expected to take a decade to build at the cost of between GBP20-30 billion. Speaking to reporters at the site, Shapps said he "queried" estimates that the costs would be as high as GBP30bn and said he was confident money could be raised to build it from private investors. "We're very confident actually, because we've been speaking to potential investors," he said.

The following day, the government confirmed the Sizewell C would go ahead and that it would also buy out China’s stake in the plant. The government had initially sought investment in Sizewell from state-owned China General Nuclear, but reversed the decision in face of growing geopolitical tensions. The exit from Sizewell C by CGN, holders of 20% of the project and also participants in the GBP26 billion Hinkley C plant, was confirmed in the statement. The UK state and EDF will each take half stakes in developing & operating the project.

Sizewell C will comprise two EPRs producing 3.2 GWe and it will would be a "replica" of Hinkley Point C, 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 this year. EDF Energy has said it expected to make a final investment decision later this year or in 2023. EDF confirmed that construction of the plant remained subject to that final investment decision, adding that it planned to "retain only a minority stake in the final investment decision - a maximum of 20%".

In January, the UK government provided GBP100 million in funding to develop the project, and also took legislation through parliament allowing a new way of funding new large infrastructure projects - a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model - and in this case gave itself the option to take a 20% stake in the project.

Nuclear Industry Association CEO Tom Greatrex said the announcement was “a defining moment for UK energy security”. He said: “Sizewell C will be one of the UK’s most important green energy projects ever, cutting fossil fuels, providing clean, affordable power for a very long time, and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs.”

Image: Artist's impression of how Sizewell C could look (courtesy of EDF)

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