December 10 2013 Latest news:
An artist's impression of the Hinkley Point C power station (pictured right, next to existing facilities) used during stage 2 public consultation Sizewell C would be very similar but clearly in a different landscape. Image courtesy of EDF Energy.
Annabelle Dickson and Tom Potter
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A deal to secure the UK’s first nuclear plant in a generation has been welcomed as “paving the way” for construction of a proposed third station on the Suffolk coast.
Months of uncertainty over the first of a new suite of nuclear plants ended yesterday, when the government finally struck a deal with developers EDF Energy for the guaranteed price of energy generated at its new Hinkley Point plant in Somerset.
It means the French firm will move to the next stage of consultation on Sizewell C with “renewed confidence and momentum”, according to nuclear new-build director Richard Mayson.
The announcement came as energy firm Npower become the third major supplier to announce price rises, with a dual-fuel bill to go up 10.4%.
Energy secretary Ed Davey said the agreement was “a very good deal for Britain”, with government estimates that energy bills will be £77 lower by 2030. Although Mr Davey said he could not guarantee this because of the “uncertainties”.
There are fears from one consumer group that energy bills could go up further, as the owners of the nuclear plant are being guaranteed a price for electricity.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said: “Rising energy bills are one of the top concerns for cash-strapped consumers, so everyone will want to be assured that the price the government has agreed for new nuclear power is fair.”
After more than two years of negotiation, ministers agreed a guaranteed “strike price” of £92.50 for every megawatt hour of power produced at the Hinkley C plant for 35 years after it goes online. A flexible price could see that amount drop to £89.50 if EDF gains planning permission to build another nuclear plant at Sizewell, with the Suffolk project sharing the costs of developing as it should have the same reactor design.
Mr Mayson said developing Sizewell C could be significantly less expensive than the £16bn projected at Hinkley, due to the similarity in design and some development requirements not being “site specific”.
He said projections for job creation and economic development at the Somerset site were likely to be matched on the Suffolk coast, if the proposal gets the go-ahead.
EDF and its two Chinese partners have agreed to spend 57% of the Hinkley investment with UK firms. Mr Mayson said that, although calculations are yet to be completed for Sizewell, that bottom-up percentage sum for Hinkley’s 140 contract packages could be matched on the east coast.
Mr Mayson also said that projections for £100m of regional economic benefit during every year of construction of Hinkley, and £40m per year during its 60-year operation, would “translate to Sizewell”.
No date has yet been set for construction to begin on the proposed Sizewell C site – a second stage of consultation is expected next year.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey said: “While this is not an announcement for Sizewell, this is an important indication that Sizewell C will now go ahead. We can then start unlocking the jobs and investment that it will bring.”
Not everyone shared the same optimism when the deal was announced yesterday.
Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said: “It’s incredible that the government should sign up to such a costly deal with taxpayers’ money. We are all going to have to pay enormous sums with no end in sight.”
Energy giant EDF’s boss also said that he was keen to be part of other nuclear projects such as Sizewell C as the costs of building new power stations fall.
Energy secretary Ed Davey confirmed that the government would return to the negotiating table to agree a strike price for Sizewell – but said that any negotiations would be much quicker and the government would expect the price to be lower.
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