In advance of Wednesday’s meeting between Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and the CEO of energy company EDF, Jean-Bernard Lévy, the head of Greenpeace UK has written to the Chancellor cautioning against rushing to a decision on Sizewell C nuclear power station. Nuclear power’s poor economics have made building new reactors in the UK difficult to finance, and most of the planned fleet of new reactors have stalled, with Hitachi abandoning its plans for a reactor at Wylfa on Anglesey earlier this month. EDF is unable to continue with its plans for a new power station at Sizewell in Suffolk without greater government support, and is urgently demanding clarity from the Chancellor on whether this will happen and what form it will take – the government taking a direct stake in the project, or a Regulated Asset Base financing model, where costs are added to consumers’ bills during construction. The Executive Director of Greenpeace, John Sauven, argues that a rapid decision may be in EDF’s interests, but it is not in the UK’s. The letter is reproduced in full below, and below that is a briefing on EDF’s EPR design, the wisdom (or lack of) in deciding to fund nuclear now, and the funding risks. Given the earliest a Sizewell reactor would be supplying power would be 2034, is the Government really going to commit to something where technological advances would make it a white elephant before it opens? Even in 2018 (before further drops in the costs of offshore wind) the NIC advised that only one more nuclear power station should be approved before 2025. So, even for those who see the nuclear issue as purely one of cost (ignoring those issues of waste management, accident risk, proliferation etc) there is simply no rush to strike a financing deal with EDF for Sizewell. There are of course a number of global energy scenarios (often broken out into countries and regions), which say that 100% renewables is perfectly feasible. The proposed reactor at Sizewell, the EPR, has a dismal performance record on costs and punctuality. Both Hinkley Point C and Flamanville EPR reactors are late and over budget. Flamanville is 5.8 times the original quoted cost and 12 years late. The EPR being built at Olkiluoto in Finland is now 13 years late and costs have roughly tripled. This matters because any financing by HMG of a Sizewell project, either directly or via Regulated Asset Base (RAB) type mechanism would make these cost-overruns the government’s (& the taxpayers) problem. Note that a mechanism similar to the RAB was used to finance a nuclear power station in South Carolina, which collapsed and will not be built. Payments for a nuclear power station that will never generate power still make up about 18% of customers’ bills.
Greenpeace 30th Sept 2020 read more »
Why EDF’s nuclear future is played out in the UK? Designed as a replica of Hinkley Point, the EDF EPR project in Sizewell, in the east of England, is the most successful of the energy company for export as in France. Without its realization, EDF would risk losing even more control in the construction of nuclear reactors.
Les Echos 30th Sept 2020 read more »
Suffolk MP Therese Coffey has backed the construction of Sizewell C but said that significant changes need to be made in order for the planning application to be accepted. The Conservative MP was commenting on the plans as the deadline for people who want to apply to become “interested parties” passed at the end of September.
East Anglian Daily Times 1st Oct 2020 read more »