EDF denies ‘threat’ to abandon work on Sizewell C project in Suffolk

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex might look after construction of Sizewell C.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex might look after construction of Sizewell C. - Credit: Archant

The company behind plans for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk has distanced itself from a report that it may pull the plug on the project unless it receives financial assurances from the Government.

Simone Rossi, EDF Energy chief executive, addressing guests at a Hinkley Point C supply chain event

Simone Rossi, EDF Energy chief executive, addressing guests at a Hinkley Point C supply chain event in Westminster last month. Picture: EDF Energy - Credit: Archant

According to a story in The Times, EDF Energy has “threatened to abandon work” on the Suffolk project unless progress towards agreeing a viable funding model is achieved this year.

Sizewell C is planned to be nearly identical to the Hinkley Point C station already under construction in Somerset, the cost of which ? at around £19.6bn ? has attracted criticism.

Although the use of the same design will make Sizewell C substantially cheaper to build, a different funding model from that agreed in respect of Hinkley Point C is also likely to be necessary keep down the cost of subsidies to electricity consumers.

The story in The Times says EDF is concerned that, in the absence of such an agreement, there could be a substantial delay between Hinkley Point C and the start of work on Sizewell C, which could erode the expected cost savings.

The Hinkley Point C development site in Somerset, as it looked in January.
Picture: FOTOTEK GEOFF A

The Hinkley Point C development site in Somerset, as it looked in January. Picture: FOTOTEK GEOFF AND TORDIS PAGOTTO - Credit: Archant

It quotes EDF’s UK chief executive, Simone Rossi, as saying: “This is the year where we need to understand whether this whole thing [Sizewell C] is really feasible or not. If we were to conclude that maybe it’s not feasible, then at that point maybe we say we are not in a position to continue the project.”

EDF Energy confirmed that it was in discussions with the Government over “alternative financing models” which could help both to keep down prices for consumers and to attract investors, but insisted that it remained committed to Sizewell C.

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In addition to the cost savings from using the same design, the Sizewell site also benefited from having a connection to the UK grid already in place and from a mature supply chain, the company added.

An EDP spokesperson said: “The nuclear industry will provide jobs and apprenticeships for local residents for generations to come. There will be 5,600 people needed to build the station at the peak of construction and 900 high skilled workers to operate it.

“We are working with Government to look at alternative financing models because reducing the cost of capital can make a significant difference to the price for consumers; financing models that create the conditions where institutional investors like pension funds can participate.”

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