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EDF submits plans to build Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk

Image credit: EDF

French energy firm EDF has submitted an application to build Sizewell C, a new nuclear power station in Suffolk, that will be able to generate around 3.2GW of electricity.

The Government has been considering the construction of the new plant, which will sit next to Sizewell B, for over a decade. Both plants, coupled with the in-construction Hinkley Point C in Somerset, are estimated to meet around 13 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.

EDF said the “always-on” plant will see the creation of 25,000 jobs and 1,000 apprenticeships during construction.

It will also provide 900 skilled jobs over its operating lifetime and support UK energy resilience by reducing the need for imports, the company said.

Sizewell C will also be a “near replica” of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, reducing construction costs and risks, according to EDF, which has partnered with China General Nuclear to build reactors in the UK.

Hinkley Point C proved that the construction of such plants can be anything but smooth, with years of Government indecision and ballooning budgets leading to massive delays for the project.

Under the contracts for difference regime, Hinkley Point C will receive a guaranteed price for its power, of £92.50 per megawatt-hour of electricity it generates, but EDF has said this will drop to £89.50/MWh if Sizewell C goes ahead.

But with the price of other power sources such as offshore wind falling to much lower levels, an alternative funding model for nuclear schemes could be used which it is hoped will attract investment and bring down costs.

Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of the Sizewell C project, said: “Sizewell C is a net-zero infrastructure project ready to kick-start the economy following the coronavirus crisis.

“It will offer thousands of high-quality job opportunities and long-term employment for people living in Suffolk and it will strengthen the nuclear supply chain across the country.

“The project will play a key role in lowering emissions while helping the UK keep control of its low carbon future.”

He said the construction of Sizewell C will prevent nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year, compared to electricity generated by gas plants.

The planning process is likely to take 18 months to complete and the Government will make the final decision on whether to give the green light to the scheme.

Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, has taken a dim view of the project. "The continued push for new nuclear, in the face of the cheaper, safer, faster and far more popular alternatives being pursued by most of the rest of the world, is difficult to explain,” he said.

“For half a century Britain was overly-optimistic about the technology, but we don’t have to keep making the same mistake. All it would take to knock billions off our future energy bills is for the government to admit they are backing the wrong horse. Energy technologies and economics have changed enormously over the past five years, and energy policy needs to change with them.”

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