Sizewell C could pump £200m into region’s economy every year
- Credit: Archant
EDF Energy officials said the Suffolk nuclear twin reactor power plant could cost 20% less than anticipated, and the project could inject up to £200 million a year into the county’s economy.
On a visit to see the progress on the £20bn Hinkley Point C (HPC) complex, EDF Energy chief executive Simone Rossi said there was potential to “significantly reduce” costs for Sizewell C.
He said: “The key to reducing the construction cost is replication. Doing something again with the same design makes it easier and cheaper. Let me give you an example.
“HPC has eight emergency generators. They had to be designed and certified to meet the standards required for nuclear safety.
“That means the first two will cost £38m, but the next six will be half the price. At Sizewell, none of that development or certification work needs to be done again. All its emergency generators will be at the lower price.
“Repeating that experience countless times for a power station at Sizewell that is largely identical to Hinkley Point C makes a capital cost reduction of 20% possible.”
Sizewell C could also be cheaper because the site has a grid connection capable of handling a bigger power station which could mean “substantial savings”.
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Mr Rossi said the company and Government were exploring “alternative financing models” that can create the conditions where institutional investors like pension funds can participate when they were not able to before, again cutting costs.
Jim Crawford, EDF Energy’s nuclear development director for the proposed Sizewell C station, said the promised impact on skills and jobs in Somerset was already coming to fruition.
He said: “An estimated £200m is being spent in the south-west regional economy every year through the project. I will work hard in our region to bring the same benefits to the east from Sizewell C, as well as Bradwell B in Essex.
“I know Suffolk and the wider region can take advantage of the opportunities offered due to the entrepreneurial spirit of local business and the talent of people working in education, training and economic development.”
“EDF Energy has now been through two stages of formal consultation at Sizewell C and we are working with the Government over the coming months to see if we can take the project forward. We’re doing that because we see a unique opportunity for the proposed power station to provide the country with reliable, low carbon electricity at a significantly lower price than Hinkley Point C.
“That’s because Sizewell C will almost be identical to Hinkley Point.
“Repeating the approved design – already adapted for Britain - will save a lot of money.
“The chance for customers to benefit from these cost reductions means it would be a missed opportunity if we didn’t try to make Sizewell C happen. Nuclear contributes more jobs than other technologies too – not just the 5,600 who will build the power station, but also the 900 who will operate it for many decades.
“Sizewell C also matters because Britain still needs to have reliable low carbon energy source like nuclear in its future energy mix. We have a lot of wind in Britain and windfarms like those off Suffolk’s coast have an important and growing part to play in Britain’s energy future.
“EDF Energy supports wind development and thinks there should be as much as reasonably possible where the wind is strongest, in Scotland and offshore. That makes sense because wind prices have fallen in recent years. But wind can’t provide all the answers.
“Britain needs a low carbon energy that is reliable. With wind there is too little – or too much and the back-up power is an extra cost. Batteries have a role to play but the very high costs of battery storage over long periods means it is best suited for balancing our grid over minutes rather than hours. The UK just isn’t sunny enough for solar to provide energy to match demand.”
Campaigners though voiced fears that shaving up to £4billion off the cost of Sizewell C could hit mitigation measures.
Paul Collins and Alison Downes, of Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell, said there cannot be a “one size fits all” approach.
They said:“This leaves us concerned that our environment and our communities will become victims of EDF’s cost-cutting, and that measures we consider vital – such as a dedicated access road and an accommodation strategy fully integrated with the needs of local people for affordable housing – will be swept aside.
“The fragile Sizewell coast, that hosts unique environmentally-sensitive habitats and RSPB Minsmere, requires a complex and highly considered approach.
“EDF’s proposals must reflect the very special circumstances of Suffolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and we urge Simone Rossi to come to Suffolk and see for himself.”