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EDF’s Sizewell C Project Facing Funding Issues & Local Opposition

EDF’s Sizewell C Project is finding itself in trouble after local opposition as well as issues with the proposed funding model. A development consent order or DCO Application is in the works for the construction of this nuclear power station estimated at £16 billion. The location for this plant is in Sizewell, Suffolk.

 

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The site has already seen two nuclear- reactors, the first being Sizewell A that was built in the 1960s. It is now decommissioned. Its successor is the Sizewell B, recognized b its distinct dome that resembles a golf-ball. Sizewell B is among the main energy sources in the area and has also been an employer to thousands of people in the last 3 decades. The Sizewell C Project which plans to double the area used and the capacity of the power plant.

 

The Sizewell C Nuclear Plant

 

The Sizewell C Nuclear plant is currently pending submission of its DCO Application. If this gets approved, the new station will house two EPR reactors. These reactors are currently being built in Hinkley Point. As per current estimates, this new plant would have a 3,260MW generation capacity. This is enough to power over 6 million homes, totaling almost 7% of the UK’s electricity consumption.

 

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The Sizewell C Nuclear plant is currently pending submission of its DCO Application. If this gets approved, the new station will house two EPR reactors. These reactors are currently being built in Hinkley Point. As per current estimates, this new plant would have a 3,260MW generation capacity. This is enough to power over 6 million homes, totaling almost 7% of the UK’s electricity consumption.

 

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EDF aims to reduce the cost of Sizewell C by over 20% as compared to Hinkley Point C. This would be made possible by reusing the supply chain, design as well as skills that it generated from the Somerset project, which was valued at £20 billion.

 

Minmere, a national treasure under threat

 

As EDF plans to build 2 new nuclear reactors right next to Minsmere, locals are worried about the impact that it could have on the RSPB Nature Reserve. This is among the most precious natural habitats in the United Kingdom. It holds an official designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

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Minsmere, considered as a national treasure, was featured in BBC’s Springwatch. It houses over 300 species of birds. It is also home to several other rare wildlife species. With one of the largest construction sites in the European region planned just at its doorstep, locals feel that its impact on natural diversity would be irreversible.

 

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Former BBC Breakfast presenter and broadcaster Bill Turnbull states that it could damage this special part of Suffolk. As per Bill, since this is already a very fragile area, the spoil heaps alone would cause severe contamination to the water levels. The locals are also worried about the safety of the reactor once it is constructed. Sizewell and the areas around it are at a medium to high risk of flooding as per the maps from Environment Agency.

 

The demand for a new funding model and the hurdles

 

As per TEAGS, the Theberton & Eastbridge Action Group on Sizewell C, the nuclear industry’s letter asking the government’s support for new financing models in electrical infrastructure is exposing the new projects’ vulnerabilities. As per the NIA’s letter, achieving the carbon net-zero targets and replacing UK’s aging nuclear stations would be impossible unless the right investment policies are in place.

 

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The letter has asked for an ‘urgent requirement’ for newer mechanisms for financing. It has stressed the need for ensuring investors’ confidence and bringing down the capital while providing value to customers.

 

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While EDF claims that RAB or the Regulated Asset Base funding model would not only bring down financing but also boost customer savings, opponents think otherwise. They believe that the RAB model would instead make bill-payers responsible for higher costs.

 

As per Paul Dofrman, the Nuclear Consulting Group’s founder, RAB would pass on the risk to the taxpayers and consumers of the country. Over 46,000 people have signed petitions to oppose this plan, which has been facing opposition since it is consulting began last year. As per Chris Wilson from Together Against Sizewell C, nuclear projects that do not get huge subsidies would ‘crash and burn’. Whether Sizewell C survives or succumbs to stiff local opposition and funding challenges remains to be seen.