On the sidelines of the first European Political Community (EPC) summit in Prague last week, U.K. prime minister Liz Truss and French president Emmanuel Macron met to discuss bilateral cooperation, with a particular focus on the energy sector. (Macron proposed the creation of the EPC earlier this year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Representatives of 44 European countries participated, as did the presidents of the European Council and European Commission. Conspicuously uninvited were Russia and Belarus.)
According to a joint October 7 press release, the two leaders “reaffirmed their belief that both renewable and nuclear energies are part of consistent strategies to achieve energy transition and strategic autonomy” and “confirmed the full support of the U.K. and French governments for the new nuclear power station at Sizewell.”
In addition, Truss and Macron “expect the relevant bodies to finalize arrangements in the coming month,” the release stated.
Industry response: Tom Greatrex, chief executive of Britain’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), said, “Sizewell C will be one of the U.K.’s most important green infrastructure projects ever, and critical to the government’s plan to strengthen energy security, cut gas use, and bring down bills, so this joint statement is very welcome. The U.K. needs to urgently get on with building new nuclear capacity alongside renewables, and it’s now important that a final investment decision on Sizewell is reached swiftly so construction can begin.”
Background: EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C station, consisting of twin 1,600-MWe EPRs, would be built in Suffolk, England, next to Sizewell B, a 1,198-MWe pressurized water reactor that began operation in 1995. (The Sizewell site also houses Sizewell A, a 290-MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactor, but that unit was permanently shuttered in 2006.) Sizewell C would be a near copy of the two-unit Hinkley Point C station, currently under construction in Somerset.
In May 2020, Nuclear New Build (NBB) Generation Company, an EDF Energy subsidiary, submitted the development consent order (DCO) application for the Sizewell C project to the U.K. government’s Planning Inspectorate, setting out the range of measures to be implemented to mitigate construction effects and maximize community benefits. The Planning Inspectorate accepted the application in June 2020 and completed its examination in October 2021. The government granted the DCO to NBB this July.
Good to know: According to the NIA, Sizewell C will:
- Generate enough low-carbon electricity to supply six million homes.
- Avoid approximately nine million tons of carbon emissions each year (compared with a gas-fired plant).
- Support 70,000 jobs across the United Kingdom and rely on over 3,000 U.K.-based suppliers.
- Create thousands of local jobs and contribute around £4 billion (about $4.43 billion) to the regional economy.