Breaking news: UK nuclear power deal paves way for two more giant plants after Hinkley

Jamie Stewart


A deal to build the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation struck on Wednesday between French state-owned utility EDF and the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) included the foundations of a plan to build a further two giant atomic power plants.

The 3.2GW, two-reactor Hinkley Point C plant, not expected online before 2025, will be followed in due course by the two-reactor Sizewell C plant in Suffolk, south-east England, and a Chinese-designed reactor to be installed at Bradwell B in Essex.

Wednesday’s agreement for the Bradwell B plant only reaches as far as an undertaking to undergo the generic design assessment process, however. CGN is expected to take a 66.5% share and EDF 33.5%.

EDF’s share in the first of these plants to come online, Hinkley Point C, will be 66.5%, while its share in Sizewell C will be 80%, with CGN owning the remainder. The ownership splits reflect which company will be taking the lead in the reactor design and build stage – a notoriously expensive process prone to cost overruns.

Final decision

Despite Thursday’s agreement, a final investment decision on Hinkley Point C, not expected online before 2025, remains elusive. An EDF statement said the decision remains subject to, among other things, finalisation of EDF’s financing plan and “clearance by merger control and other governmental authorities in China and Europe”.

EDF chairman Jean-Bernard Levy remained unfazed but what to some would sound like a lengthy process, insisting: “We are planning for a final investment decision within weeks so that we can move forward with construction”.

A third generation of nuclear power plants in the UK is seen as necessary to maintain secure baseload power supplies while hitting carbon reduction targets, as a substantial amount of low-carbon nuclear generation capacity will reach the end of its already-extended lifespan between now and then.

Other existing EDF plants look set to remain open past 2025 on the back of life extension agreements, plugging any gap between the closure of vital nuclear plants and Hinkley Point C’s likely commissioning.


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