Government grants a further £341M to Sizewell C and reiterates promise to speed preparation

The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has injected a further £341M to the in-development Sizewell C nuclear power station, saying that preparations for its construction will be accelerated.

The new sum comes from previously allocated funding for development on the project and brings the government’s total investment the project to date to over £1.2bn. The previous injection of £170M came in July this year, following an initial £700M sum in autumn 2022.

As with the previous sum, the DESNZ has said that the extra money will speed up pre-construction works at the site on the Suffolk coast. It says that the money will help prepare the site for construction, procure key components from the project’s supply chain and expand the existing workforce.

In combination, this will see activity “ramp up”. This will see construction of on site training facilities for 1,500 apprenticeships, further development of the plant’s engineering design and direct investments in the local community ahead of work commencing.

The £1.2bn government funding committed to date will drive progress towards the objective of reaching a Final Investment Decision on a new large-scale nuclear project this parliament. The funds also support the government’s plans for a regulated asset base (RAB) finance model for Sizewell C.

Similar to the mechanisms used on Heathrow Terminal 5 and Tideway, RAB allows investors to recoup some of their money during the construction phase of the project through taxation. The taxpayer pays for the plant through monthly surcharge on their taxes before they reap the rewards.

The government says that, while the taxpayer will have to pay the surcharge during construction, they will save £10 a month through this method once the plant is operational. However, analysis from the University of Greenwich School of Business has said that RAB funding for Sizewell C could end up costing the taxpayer much more than the government’s projections.

Sizewell C is a dual reactor 3.26GW capacity nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast that is projected to cost £20bn and take between 13 and 17 years to construct. It will provide low-carbon power to the equivalent of 60M homes over 60 years.

At the peak of construction work, it would support 10,000 jobs nationwide, with 70% of the value of construction contracts in the supply chain going to UK businesses.

Minister for nuclear and networks Andrew Bowie said: “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.

“Today’s 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.”

Sizewell C Company joint managing director Julia Pyke said: “This is great news and puts us in an even stronger position to start full construction. 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.”

Campaign group Stop Sizewell C said: “The UK government acquiring a bigger and bigger stake in Sizewell C is letting France and EDF off the hook for their terrible project. What a shocking legacy for Sunak’s government, to be duped into throwing good taxpayers’ money after bad in order to shore up what would almost certainly be the very last EPR reactors built. Meanwhile no one can explain why it is a good idea for the UK to pursue this tortuously difficult technology when the French are moving on to a simpler, cheaper design.”

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