Sizewell: Power price deal could give Sizewell C plan momentum

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- Credit: Archant

Striking a power price deal for Britain’s first new nuclear power station in nearly 20 years could give momentum to proposals for Sizewell C, an MP claimed last night.

It is expected that attention will switch to the Suffolk coast if – as expected – the Hinkley Point project is agreed today by Government ministers and EDF Energy.

Westminster sources said an announcement is imminent – just days after Chancellor George Osborne returned from China with a Memorandum of Understanding that is set to lead to huge investment in Britain’s nuclear power industry.

Investment has been a major factor in the delays in getting the Government’s nuclear programme moving.

Now that appears to be secured, the “strike price” – the guaranteed price of the electricity generated – is the next big announcement.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “I hope this expected announcement will bring momentum to the Sizewell C project.”

Development of a third nuclear plant at Sizewell though is still some time away.

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Stage one of the consultation has been carried out and communities have held information meetings with EDF Energy but there is a long way to go before a start date can be contemplated.

Much of the machinery and expertise which will be used at Hinkley Point in Somerset will be needed at Sizewell, which itself will take seven years to build.

EDF has declined to be drawn publicly into the debate about the strike price, but has spoken about the possibility of Chinese investment and says “deeper co-operation between China and the UK will bring both countries a wide range of benefits”.

Observers say the power price will mean Government guaranteeing the French energy company tens of billions of pounds of revenue for the proposed £14bn Hinkley Point plant.

The deal will agree a price for all the power the plant generates during its 35-year operating life – from the early 2020s to around 2055.

However, it is claimed this will simply lead to increases in bill for households across the country to pay for the subsidies, though Government says investing in nuclear power will save consumers money and is cheaper than some renewables.

There will still be another hurdle to cross as the deal will require EU state aid clearance, and this may mean EDF cannot make its final decision until sometime next year.

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