Upcoming Sizewell C nuclear plant kicks off search for private equity investment
Image credit: EDF
The government has begun looking for outside investment to help build the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant.
The facility is expected to cost at least £20bn and generate energy at a more expensive price when compared to renewables such as wind and solar. However, it would offer baseload capacity for the grid, which the latter do not.
The project is planned to commence before 2024, with construction taking between nine and 12 years, depending on developments at the oft-delayed and over-budget Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
French energy giant EDF, which also holds a major stake in Hinkley, initially owned an 80 per cent share in the Sizewell C project, with the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group funding the remaining 20 per cent.
But last year, security concerns about China caused the government to buy CGN out of the development for just over £100m, meaning it is now co-owned by EDF and the UK government on a 50/50 split basis.
The search for outside investors could help to reduce the financial burden of the project for the government. It is looking for companies with substantial experience in the delivery of major infrastructure projects, although any investment will also be subject to “strict national security checks”.
Taxpayers have already invested £700m in the project – the first such direct public investment in a nuclear project for a generation. Ministers have also made £511m available to continue project development and prepare the Suffolk site for construction, ahead of plans to raise private equity funds.
The government is planning to revive nuclear power by investing in large-scale reactors as well as emerging technologies, such as Small Modular Reactors, with the ambition of having up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity generated by nuclear by 2050.
“Investing in Sizewell C is an exciting opportunity to be a part of the UK’s nuclear revival, delivering clean, reliable and affordable power for generations to come,” energy minister Claire Coutinho said.
“This project will create thousands of jobs, power 6 million homes and boost our energy security.
“We are focused on securing good value for taxpayers and look forward to seeing strong and competitive bids to be a part of this exciting project.”
Sizewell C is planned to house two of the world’s most powerful nuclear reactors and has an expected lifespan of over 60 years.
Julia Pyke, Sizewell C Company joint managing director, said: “Investors who participate in Sizewell C would be contributing to one of the biggest clean energy projects in the UK. They should feel confident in our proposals as we are building a replica project with government backing, a mature reactor design and a workforce ready to build it.”
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