Sizewell C talks could leave us with another horribly expensive nuclear white elephant. Hinkley Point C is still not producing power and its electricity will be horribly expensive when it does – sometime in the middle of the decade. James Moore explains why the nuclear numbers simply don’t add up.
Independent 15th Dec 2020 read more »
The government has reignited a row over Britain’s nuclear energy ambitions by agreeing to restart talks with EDF over plans to build a reactor at Sizewell C in Suffolk. The talks could lead to the government taking a direct financial stake in the project before the end of the current parliamentary term in 2024, and using a new financial model that would make the public liable for cost overruns. The formal negotiations over the £20bn nuclear plant will hinge on whether the French state-owned EDF can prove it has learned lessons from its Hinkley Point nuclear project in Somerset, and that a successor plant would offer the public value for money. If it succeeds it may be offered a multi-billion-pound deal that allows it to charge energy customers for the cost of construction while it builds the reactor, effectively putting bill payers on the hook for delays or cost overruns. Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, accused the government of “kicking big decisions into touch” and failing to offer a “definitive statement today one way or the other on financing, costs or an overall plan”. The decision to restart talks is also expected to reopen a debate over whether nuclear energy can offer good value for money, and whether the UK needs new nuclear reactors to help meet a steep rise in demand for low-carbon electricity to power a boom in electric vehicles, induction hobs and heat pumps.
Guardian 14th Dec 2020 read more »
Nils Pratley: This is the government’s problem as it reopens talks on a proposed nuclear power station at Sizewell C in Suffolk: it is contemplating ordering a replica of Hinkley Point C before the Somerset original has produced a single megawatt of electricity. That is not a small point. Developer EDF’s pre-Hinkley version of its European pressurised reactor at Flamanville in Normandy is about a decade behind schedule. What’s more, EDF wants UK taxpayers or bill payers to bear more of the construction risks at Sizewell, a less-than-compelling offer when you remember that Flamanville is also €9bn (£8.2bn) over budget. Progress with construction at Hinkley is said to be smoother, even if costs have gone up, but one would prefer to see the thing humming before committing another £20bn. Actual production of electricity won’t happen at Hinkley until 2025 at the earliest and, arguably, the government needs to get a move on with meeting its low-carbon ambitions well before then – or so, the nuclear lobby will inevitably say. Ministers, though, should resist the temptation to make a quick decision. Remember the advice of the Infrastructure Commission in its last assessment of energy needs: a renewables-based system is the best bet and only one new big nuclear plant needs to be commissioned before 2025. That would seem to create space to string out the negotiations with EDF; however hard the French state-backed firm may press for speed. A slow pace would also allow Rolls-Royce to work on its plans for small modular reactors. If these smaller-scale units can turned into a financially competitive alternative to mega-plants of the Hinkley/Sizewell variety, the nuclear outlook would change radically. The Sizewell proposal comes with other problems, including local opposition, the suitability of the site and the still-unclear status of co-financing by China (surely impossible in the current political climate). In short, Sizewell should be viewed only as a last resort.
Guardian 14th Dec 2020 read more »
The Government is to begin talks over the construction of a new £20bn nuclear power plant as it set out plans for a clean energy system it said will create thousands of jobs. Despite criticism that nuclear is too expensive and inflexible, ministers and their climate advisers are keen to replace at least some of plants to help provide low carbon power. The Government said the discussions with EDF are part of its “options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament”.
Telegraph 14th Dec 2020 read more »
NEGOTIATIONS over building a £20billion nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk are to begin between the government and EDF Energy. Taxpayer cash could be used to help fund Sizewell C, which would meet seven per cent of Britain’s energy needs. The talks are part of plans — published yesterday — to cut emissions by investing in cleaner power, including solar and wind. Business secretary Alok Sharma said the proposals pave the way to end reliance on fossil fuels.
Metro 15th Dec 2020 read more »
Unite and Greenpeace differ over impact of potential new £20bn nuclear power station at Sizewell.
Morning Star 14th Dec 2020 read more »
Sizewell has long been earmarked as a front-runner for a new nuclear power plant. Although still a long way from being approved, the proposals have taken a step forward. Alison Downes, executive director of the protest group Stop Sizewell C, says there remains numerous “obstacles” to a Sizewell C ever being built. “The challenges surrounding a build at Sizewell C are completely unique,” she says. “This idea that Sizewell C will show value for money is just pie in the sky stuff. “Extending the life of Sizewell B makes sense, if it could be done safely. “There’s still everything to play for in this campaign.”
BBC 14th dec 2020 read more »
£20 billion nuclear power plant to create clean energy and thousands of jobs.
Northern Echo 14th Dec 2020 read more »
Does the announcement pave the way for work to start on Sizewell C? In itself no. The government has confirmed that it is to talk to EDF Energy about taking a stake in the project, currently estimated to cost about £20bn, but there is no commitment to spending any money at this stage. That has prompted those opposing the project to say that this announcement makes no difference – government sources had already indicated that it could invest in the project after concerns were raised about possible Chinese investment. However, supporters of Sizewell C say that the government’s statement is a clear indication that it supports the development of the new power station.
East Anglian Daily Times 14th Dec 2020 read more »