UK approves major new nuclear plant

It hopes the construction of the 3,200 MWe plant will help achieve its target of Britain becoming a net zero carbon emitter by 2050
Last Updated : 20 July 2022, 12:53 IST
Last Updated : 20 July 2022, 12:53 IST

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The UK government on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the new Sizewell C nuclear power station in eastern England, which it says will generate low-carbon electricity for six million homes.

It hopes the construction of the 3,200 MWe plant will help achieve its target of Britain becoming a net zero carbon emitter by 2050.

Ministers announced in January that the government will invest another £100 million ($120 million) to help support development of the project.

The extra cash is also aimed at attracting new partners to Sizewell C, which is led by French energy giant EDF and located on the Suffolk coast.

"The funding commitment... will be used to continue the development of the project," said a statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The boost will also "aim to attract further financing from private investors and, subject to value for money and relevant approvals, the UK government".

EDF owns 80 per cent of the project and China's state-owned nuclear firm CGN holds the remainder.

The government began talks with EDF over the project last year, amid reports that China could be ousted due to chilling relations between London and Beijing.

Britain has already allotted £1.7 billion of funding for the development of a large-scale nuclear project, with a final investment decision due by 2024.

Construction is expected to take between nine and 12 years.

CGN is also working alongside EDF in the construction of Hinkley Point, in southwest England, in Britain's first new nuclear power plant in more than two decades.

Britain has a total of 15 nuclear reactors at eight sites around the country, but many of them are now approaching the end of their lifespan.

Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to build a new nuclear reactor every year, including large and smaller "modular" plants, as part of a wider decarbonisation strategy.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace criticised the announcement.

"Sizewell C represents all that's been wrong about energy policy," said Greenpeace UK chief scientist Doug Parr.

"Rather than wasting time and money on this red herring energy solution, the government should throw everything at making cheaper, cleaner and more reliable renewables the backbone of our energy system," he added.

But unions welcomed the move, while demanding more clarity about the project's funding.

"Sizewell C is essential for meeting our energy challenges. This is a vital step forward for energy security and net zero," said Charlotte Childs, National Officer with general trade union GMB.

"The UK's nuclear programme has been delayed too many times due to political decisions. We need further investment in nuclear to secure good jobs for the future," she added.

Published 20 July 2022, 12:53 IST

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