New UK nuclear power plant to get go-ahead before next election
Image credit: EDF
A new nuclear power plant will be announced before the likely but unconfirmed 2024 election, as part of Government plans to bolster low-carbon electricity in the UK, a report from the Daily Telegraph says.
Citing “government insiders”, the paper said that the front runner for the new site would be Sizewell C, a project that has been under consideration since French energy giant EDF submitted an application for it in May last year.
EDF wants the plant to be able generate around 3.2GW of electricity and it will be a “near replica” of Hinkley Point C in Somerset in order to reduce construction costs and risks. The power station, which will also be part owned by the China General Nuclear (CGN), is expected to meet seven per cent of the UK's demand when it comes into service.
However, amid growing uncertainty around Chinese-backed infrastructure projects, it emerged last month that the Government was trying to strike a new deal that would prevent CGN from being involved in the project.
“Nuclear power has a key role to play as we work to build a strong, home-grown energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices,” a government spokesman told the Telegraph. “We are seeking to approve at least one more large-scale nuclear project in the next few years to strengthen energy security and create thousands of jobs.”
The project will reportedly be included in the government’s upcoming Net Zero strategy, which outlines how the UK will reach that goal by 2050.
As with Hinkley Point C, the Government may agree financing that would guarantee a certain price for each unit of electricity produced at the station, the paper reported. 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. EDF has said this will drop to £89.50/MWh if Sizewell C goes ahead.
With the price of other power sources such as offshore wind falling to much lower levels in recent years, the comparatively high price of nuclear can be off-putting for investors.
Nevertheless, nuclear power stations offer low-carbon baseload electricity that can help prop up a national grid heavily reliant on intermittent renewables.
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