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Sizewell C / Construction Moves A Step Closer For UK Nuclear Reactor Project

By David Dalton
16 January 2024

Government aiming to raise £20bn from outside investors for two France-supplied EPR plants

Construction Moves A Step Closer For UK Nuclear Reactor Project
The UK is planning to build two France-supplied EPR units at Sizewell C. Courtesy EDF Energy.

Construction of the two-unit Sizewell C nuclear power station project in Suffolk, southeast England, has moved a step closer after a development consent order (DCO) was officially triggered.

The project to build the two France-supplied EPR units was granted permission to build in July 2022, allowing some preparatory works to begin.

But the government also set out several obligations that needed to be satisfied before construction could commence on the plant, including key road surveys and the establishment of governance groups. Sizewell C said these obligations had all been met.

A DCO is an application for consent to undertake a “nationally significant infrastructure project – major infrastructure developments that include power plants.

Before construction can start, the government must raise £20bn (€23bn, $25bn) from outside investors through a mix of debt and equity, with the cost clawed back through a surcharge on energy bills while it is being built.

Last September, the government, Sizewell C and France-based electricity giant and nuclear operator EDF launched an equity raise process to attract private investors into the project.

Nuclear minister Andrew Bowie described triggering the DCO as “a major milestone for Sizewell C and our ambition to deliver up to 24GW of low-carbon nuclear power by 2050”.

Julia Pyke and Nigel Cann, joint managing directors at Sizewell C, said: “This is a significant moment for our project in Suffolk and a big step for British energy security.

“We’ve had a really successful year of pre-commencement works on site, and we’ve been working hard with local partners and organisations to ensure we're ready to take this next step for the project.”

Last week the UK government set out plans for what it claims will be Britain’s biggest nuclear power expansion in 70 years with the possible construction of about 11 new reactors by 2050 – enough to meet a quarter of the national electricity demand.

Ministers published a roadmap that recommits the government to building a fleet of nuclear reactors capable of producing 24 GW by 2050 – an increase from around 5.8 GW today.

Approval will be given for one or two new reactors every five years from 2030 to 2044, and backing given to another large-scale nuclear station in addition to Hinkley Point C – a project which has seen delays and rising costs – and Sizewell C.

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