Last-minute delays had been piling up across the Channel for two months, and the country’s political instability was not helping. However, an agreement appears to have been reached between the UK Government and EDF on the development of the new nuclear power plant project.
Speaking at the State Budget presentation on Thursday November 17th, Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the official decision to raise the capital of Sizewell C, an EPR-like project in the east of England, being built and managed by the French electrician.
“Government will evolve for Sizewell C, said Mr. Hunt. Subject to the latest approvals, the initial investment contracts will be signed with the various parties, including EDF, in the coming weeks. » Says the French electrician to himself “delighted” this ad.
Gigantic construction site
This agreement is not yet a green light for the construction of a new EPR. One essential element is missing: the financing – almost 25 billion euros. This initially concerns the establishment of the plant development project, in which EDF and the UK State will each have a 50% partnership.
This will allow them to sack CGN’s Chinese, who have been involved in Sizewell C for several years, and raise new funds to finance the development costs: the British government will contribute up to £700 million (€800 million).
EDF already operates the UK’s eight operational nuclear power plants. It is also building two new EPRs with a total capacity of 3.2 gigawatts at Hinkley Point C in western England, the first part of which is scheduled to open in 2026. This gigantic project, which employs more than 7,500 workers every day, was launched in 2016 and caused a great deal of controversy.
At the time, the British government had refused to pay a penny and the French electrician had decided to fund the project from his own resources. However, the cost was prohibitive: in January 2021 it was revised upwards “22 billion-23 billion pounds” (This is a price calculated in 2015 currencies; adjusted for inflation it is now close to £28-29 billion). This decision led to the resignation of EDF’s finance director, who felt the risk was too great.
To limit the breach, the tricolor company had rested on two pillars. On the one hand, it had signed an extraordinary contract with the British government, which guaranteed it the selling price of electricity at £92.50 per megawatt hour (double the market price at the time) for thirty-five years. On the other hand, it had raised the capital of CGN, a major Chinese nuclear company that funded a third of Hinkley Point C. At the same time, CGN had acquired 20% of the Sizewell C development project and received promises of being able to build a plant in Bradwell, northern England, using its own technology.
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