The application for a development consent order, or DCO, was deferred for two months in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, EDF said.
EDF, which is building two new Generation III EPRs at the Hinkley Point C station in Somerset, southwest England, has said it can significantly reduce the cost of Sizewell C, including by transferring workers and equipment between the two.
The company said the new power station will provide a huge stimulus to the UK economy following the coronavirus pandemic. Around 25,000 employment opportunities and 1,000 apprenticeships will be created during construction.
Sizewell C would be north of its sister plant Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast. EDF estimates the two Sizewell C units would take 10 to 12 years to build once it has planning permission.
A final decision on the DCO application will be taken by the government.
EDF owns 80% of the Sizewell C project and China General Nuclear Power Corporation 20%. The Chinese company also owns 35% of Hinkley Point C and 65% in the proposed Bradwell B, where it is planning to use its own HPR1000 or Hualong One technology.
Successive governments have backed the idea of a series of new nuclear plants to replace existing reactors that are soon to close. However, projects at Moorside in Cumbria and Wylfa on Anglesey have both been abandoned due to funding problems, leaving Sizewell C as the only other project close to being built.
Hinkley Point C was approved in 2016 at a cost of £18bn but this has since risen, first to £19.6bn and then to £21.5bn-£22.5bn
Before the latest cost increase EDF said construction costs for Sizewell C could be about 20% lower than for Hinkley, thanks to the benefit of duplication.
The Times reported in January that EDF was in “a race against time” to secure a funding deal for Sizewell C. The London-based newspaper said the French energy giant had hired Rothschild as financial adviser for the project and wants a “definitive way forward” from the government this year so it can start construction in 2022.
EDF gave no details of project financing in a statement today, but noted that in 2019 the government said the regulated asset-base model had the potential to reduce the cost of raising private finance for new nuclear projects thereby reducing consumer bills
The government said last year that new nuclear plants could be rolled out under the RAB model. The government set out proposals to explore the RAB approach to attract “significant private investment” for future nuclear power in the UK.