Government and developers 'must work together' to make nuclear project a reality, says Sizewell C boss
PUBLISHED: 15:02 28 January 2019
The head of a proposed new nuclear power station based in Suffolk urged developers, investors and government to join forces to make it happen following a decision to shelve schemes elsewhere in the UK.
Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, managing director of French energy giant EDF’s Sizewell C nuclear project, said the project could meet the cost challenge set by government and offer a competitive price for consumers.
The nuclear boss, who was responding to Horizon’s decision to suspend work on planned nuclear power stations at Wylfa and Oldbury, said while this had inevitably led to questions about the future of nuclear power in Britain, it was needed to enable an affordable low carbon system.
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Other wind and solar schemes had high levels of intermittent renewable energy, and long-term battery storage was still “prohibitively expensive”.
“Coal still plays a big part in keeping lights on during winter. It will be gone by 2025. That is why we are moving ahead with investment in low carbon electricity, including at the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk,” he said.
The Leiston plant would be a close replica of the Hinkley Point C power station being built in Somerset, he said.
“That project is on schedule and there is already hard evidence that the 3,560 workers there are learning fast and improving performance,” he said. “They benefit from the experience of an operational EPR reactor at Taishan in China and other projects which are close to completion.”
With the right timing, EDF could transfer know-how, and the “significant costs” involved in the approval process for designing a new power station would be mainly avoided, he said.
“Quantities of materials like concrete and steel can be known with more precision. Processes and plans can be improved and streamlined. The next two reactors may be at Sizewell C, but they will be so identical, that they could be called the third and fourth Hinkley Point C reactors,” he said. “Developers, investors and government will have to work together to make Sizewell C happen. It’s not easy but sometimes it is worth doing difficult things. Too often, the history of UK nuclear has been one of stop start and multiple design changes – now we have an opportunity for a different approach.