The UK government plans to take a 20% stake in a the projected £20 bn Sizewell C nuclear power plant, according to a report broadcast by the BBC. EDF will also take a 20% stake in the Suffolk power station.
UK ministers anticipate that the confirmation of interest by two significant investors will encourage infrastructure investors and pension funds to take up the remaining 60%.
Sizewell C is a key part of the new UK energy strategy, expected to be published in the next few days. It is, as yet, unclear whether the strategy will include large-scale plants, smaller reactors perhaps based on nuclear submarine technology, or both. The government's strategy will also include plans for solar and wind power, as well as stimulating additional investment in oil and gas fields in UK waters.
Legislation allowing construction and financing costs to be added to customer bills, as Sizewell C is built over the next decade, is on the agenda. EDF has insisted the amount added will be relatively insignificant,
The total cost of Sizewell C is expected to be about £20 bn. That is slightly less than the plant currently under construction at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, as Sizewell C will be a near-identical replica, creating cost savings.
The £20bn in capital (at current prices) is expected to be financed with about one-third in equity and the remainder in debt borrowed from financial markets.
The government has already committed £100m to the project's development but taking a 20% stake in the equity would see that figure rise to around £1.5bn.
There is significant opposition to building Sizewell C, both at a local level and more widely from those who argue ‘big nuclear’ is slow, expensive, old fashioned, risky and threatens local wildlife. Anti-Sizewell groups have mounted planning challenges and are expected to demand a judicial review of any approval.