Last-minute delays had accumulated for two months across the Channel, and the political instability that prevailed in the country did not help. However, an agreement seems to have been reached between the British government and EDF to develop the project for a new nuclear power station.
On the occasion of the presentation of the State budget, Thursday November 17, Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the official decision to raise the capital of Sizewell C, an EPR type project in the east of England, which is to be built and managed by the French electrician.
“The government will move forward for Sizewell C, said Mr. Hunt. Subject to the latest approvals, contracts for the initial investment will be signed with the various parties, including EDF, in the coming weeks. » The French electrician says to himself ” delighted “ of this announcement.
Gigantic construction site
This agreement is not yet a green light to build a new EPR. One essential element is missing: funding – nearly 25 billion euros. For the time being, this concerns the establishment of the plant development project, in which EDF and the British State will be in partnership at 50% each.
This will allow them to dismiss the Chinese from CGN, who had been involved in Sizewell C for several years, and to bring in new cash to finance the cost of development: the British government will contribute up to 700 million pounds. sterling (800 million euros).
EDF is already the operator of the eight British nuclear power stations in operation. It is also building, in the west of England, Hinkley Point C, two new EPRs with a total capacity of 3.2 gigawatts, the first part of which is due to open in 2026. This gigantic project, on which more than 7,500 workers work every day, was launched in 2016, sparking a huge controversy.
At the time, the British government had refused to pay a penny and the French electrician had decided to finance the project with its own funds. However, the cost was prohibitive: in January 2021, it was revised upwards to “22 billion-23 billion pounds” (this is a price calculated in 2015 currencies; adjusted for inflation, it is now close to 28 billion-29 billion pounds). This decision caused the resignation of EDF’s financial director, who considered that the risk was too great.
To limit the breakage, the tricolor company had rested on two pillars. On the one hand, it had signed an extraordinary contract with the British State, which guaranteed it the sale price of electricity at 92.50 pounds per megawatt hour (at the time double the market price) for thirty -five years. On the other hand, it had increased the capital of CGN, a large Chinese nuclear company, which was financing a third of Hinkley Point C. At the same time, CGN had taken 20% of the Sizewell C development project, and had received the promise of being able to build a plant of its own technology in Bradwell, in the north of England.
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