UK Government unveils extra £1.3bn for Sizewell C nuclear plant

The UK Government has pledged an additional £1.3bn for the Sizewell C nuclear power plant project spearheaded by EDF, on top of a string of existing support packages collectively totalling more than £1.2bn.

UK Government unveils extra £1.3bn for Sizewell C nuclear plant

Pictured: An artist's impression of Sizewell C. Image: EDF

The new money is intended to support the construction of the 2.3GW power plant in Suffolk – a process that got the green light to commence earlier this month. It will be spent on infrastructure to prepare for full construction, such as road and rail line improvements.

Sizewell C’s joint managing directors Julia Pyke and Nigel Cann issued a statement reading: “This significant investment underlines the importance of Sizewell C for Britain and is a further sign of confidence in our team to deliver it. With the project now in construction, the funding means we can step up activity in Suffolk and deliver on our commitments to local communities.”

Ministers from the Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero (DESNZ) have emphasised that the £1.3bn is being taken from existing departmental budgets.

Combined with more than £1.2bn of funding announced for Sizewell C last year, including a £700m stake and £341m boost for construction preparation workstreams, the new money cements the UK Government’s position as the project’s majority shareholder.

Developer EDF estimates that the power plant will cost at least £20bn to deliver and expects around 60% of the cost to be footed by private investors.

It is hoping to make a final investment decision later this year. However, delays could result from the next general election, which has to be held by January 2025.

The UK Government introduced the use of a regulated asset base model to fund Sizewell C under Boris Johnson. This approach enables investors to recoup some of their costs through taxation during the construction phase.

MPs and academics have been urging Ministers to ensure that costs to the general public are kept low amid the cost-of-living crisis.A report from the Infrastructure and Project Authority in summer 2023 did not disclose progress on the delivery of Sizewell C, as it did with more than a dozen other projects overseen by DESNZ, on commercial grounds.

Civil Nuclear Roadmap

The UK Government is aiming for the nation to host up to 24GW of nuclear generation capacity by 2050, which would be a fourfold increase on current levels. Ministers this month outlined plans to deliver this scaling up, called the ‘Civil Nuclear Roadmap’.

The Roadmap details how a mix of large-scale projects like Sizewell C, plus small modular reactors, will be needed to meet the target.

It states that the Government will begin exploring a further large power plant in addition to Sizewell C before a general election is called.

The Roadmap also cements an ambition to secure final investment decisions on at least 3GW of nuclear projects every five years between 2030 and 2044. There is a stretching ambition to achieve decisions on up to 7GW within these timeframes.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie