The British government has approved the construction of Sizewell C, a twin-unit nuclear power station. When completed in the early 2030s, it will supply 3.2 GW or 7% of the country’s electricity needs.
Sizewell C will be built alongside two existing factories, Sizewell A and B – the first to close in 2006 – in Suffolk, south-east England. The £20bn project will be mainly funded by French energy supplier EDF, with £100m from the government.
An independent planning inspectorate, which had looked at the project for almost two years, advised against construction unless water supply problems – there is not enough water in the area for the plant completed – and wildlife habitats are resolved. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday overruled the recommendations and confirmed consent for the development.
Local anti-nuclear activists opposed the project, criticizing that the plant would be built next to Minsmere Nature Reserve. One group said it would consider appealing the decision.
Along with Hinkley Point C, due to be commissioned in 2027, Sizewell C is just the second nuclear power station built in the UK since 1995. Building more nuclear reactors is part of the government’s plans to decarbonise the grid electricity in the country by 2035 and would reduce the country’s dependence on imported gas. Most existing nuclear power plants must stop producing electricity by 2030.
Up to 24GW of nuclear-generated electricity – three times the current supply – is expected by 2050. There is also a £120m Nuclear Activation Fund for emerging technologies such as small modular reactors. Sizewell C may be part of one of the UK’s first negative emissions installations, powering a facility that captures carbon dioxide from the air.