The BBC said it had learned that talks with the Sizewell contractor, France’s sate-controlled utility and nuclear operator EDF, have “intensified” in recent weeks.
The BBC said the details of how new reactors at Sizewell C will be paid for are still being discussed, but government officials are insisting that it remains committed to new nuclear.
This commitment to new nuclear may be included as part of a 10-point government plan to be published in the coming weeks. That plan is expected ahead of a detailed government white paper in late November which will attempt to set out the course of UK energy policy for decades to come.
EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation are 80% and 20% shareholders in the project to build the two EPR units on the Suffolk coast in southeast England. The cost of the project has been estimated at £18bn, although this has not been confirmed by either EDF or CGN. In May, EDF submitted a planning application to build the the two new units.
Sizewell C is now the only new-build project in the UK for which planning permission is being sought. Three projects – Wylfa Newydd, Moorside and Oldbury – have either been cancelled or shelved, while Bradwell remains in the early technical stages. The only reactors under construction are two EPRs being built by EDF at Hinkley Point C.
The main obstacle to new-build has been finding the right financing package.
The nuclear industry has been calling for the introduction of the regulated asset base (RAB) proposal for the financing of nuclear plants. The government has already said the model has the potential to reduce the cost of raising private finance.
The Times newspaper reported recently that EDF wants a tax on UK household energy bills to help pay for Sizewell C, with other options including the British government taking a stake.