Sizewell C nuclear plant placed under review
Image credit: EDF
Boris Johnson's government had pledged £700m to the Sizewell C project in his final policy speech, but officials have reported that the projected reactor has now been placed under review.
The UK government's plan to limit its spending overall includes a review of the project to build the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk.
The new reactor, located in principle 30 miles northeast of Ipswich, was expected to be built by French energy firm EDF. The government had pledged to support the project by buying a 20 per cent stake in the reactor for £700m, as part of its target of achieving UK energy security in the midst of an energy crisis.
The total cost of the Sizewell C project could be around £20bn, according to reports.
“We are reviewing every major project – including Sizewell C,” a government official told the BBC.
The statement was backed by a senior Treasury source, stressing “we’re looking at all capital spending”.
Although the project could support the UK's future position within the energy market, the Institute for Fiscal Studies' warning that the state faces a roughly £60bn financial black-hole has led the UK government to look for opportunities to reduce spending.
The Treasury has thus pulled back on a number of previous unfunded tax cuts or spending plans and the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has announced that the two-year energy price freeze for all households will now run for just six months, followed by a review on how to then support bills after this period.
However, sources in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, insisted Sizewell C was not being scrapped or delayed.
A government spokesman said: “Delivering infrastructure to improve everyday life for millions of people is a priority for this government.
“HS2 is underway, within budget, and supporting 28,000 jobs, we are also seeking to approve at least one large-scale nuclear project in the next few years and aim to speed up the delivery of around 100 major infrastructure projects across the UK.”
The project, mainly funded by EDF, aims to generate about 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs from the 2030s and could operate for 60 years.
Supporters of the site say it can help get the UK to run on zero-carbon power, but its opponents say the cash would be better spent on wind farms or insulation.
The new plant would be built next to the existing Sizewell B, which is still generating electricity, and Sizewell A, which has been decommissioned, according to a previous statement from then-business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. To date, the government has committed £100m to develop the project.
The similar reactor at Hinkley Point C in Somerset began construction in 2016 and will not be online until 2027, although delays there have partly been due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK government plans to completely decarbonise the country’s electricity by 2035. By 2050, it is expected that up to 25 per cent of the country’s energy usage (24GW) would be generated from nuclear, while the remaining 75 per cent would come from other forms of renewable or low-carbon energy, such as offshore wind or solar.
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