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UK / Regulator Grants Site Licence For Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station

By Rumyana Vakarelska
7 May 2024

Shut-down Sizewell A ‘may be repurposed’ to support neighbouring EPR facility or for SMRs

Regulator Grants Site Licence For Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station
The UK wants to build two France-supplied EPR nuclear plants at Sizewell C. Courtesy EDF Energy.

The UK nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), has granted a site licence for the planned 3,200-MW Sizewell C new nuclear power station in the county of Suffolk in eastern England, according to its statement on 7 May.

“I am pleased to confirm that following extensive engagement and review by the ONR team, our assessment of the Sizewell C application is complete and a nuclear site has been licence granted,” said ONR’s chief nuclear inspector, Mark Foy.

The “licensing process is fundamental in confirming that operators of a nuclear site are ready and able to meet their obligations under the nuclear site licence, to protect their workforce and the public”, Foy added.

ONR’s regulatory responsibility “starts at the point of granting of a nuclear site licence. Now granted, it is able to use the powers within that licence to require Sizewell C Ltd to request our permission for starting nuclear-related construction”, ONR said in the statement.

ONR noted that “although the granting of a site licence is a significant step, it does not permit the start of nuclear-related construction on the site”.

EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of French state-owned power company EDF, owns 49% in Sizewell C, with the UK government holding a majority stake with the remaining 51%.

Neither EDF Energy, nor the UK government have said when construction will start at Sizewell C or when the first plant will enter service, but, according to EDF Energy, the main construction of the plant will not start before its sister plant, the 3,200-MW Hinkley Point C, enters service.

This is not scheduled to happen until the end of 2029, at the very earliest.

Sizewell A Site ‘May Be Repurposed’

Sizewell C will comprise two 1,600-MW French EPR reactors. A similar reactor technology is already in service at the delayed Olkiluoto-3 plant in Finland, at two units at the Taishan nuclear station in China and at Flamanville-3, under construction by EDF in northern France.

Separately, it emerged that the site of Sizewell A, a closed Magnox nuclear power station undergoing decommissioning and next to where Sizewell C will be built, may be repurposed to support Sizewell C or to support another energy project.

This was revealed following the submission of plans by decommissioning firm Magnox to demolish the turbine hall and electrical annex at Sizewell A as work continues to decommission the two gas-cooled reactors at Sizewell A, which stopped operating in 2006, according to press reports.

These other projects for the site could include a substation for wind farm expansion or the construction of small modular reactors.

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