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Sizewell C nuclear power station could become operational in 2031, says head of EDF Energy

PUBLISHED: 11:48 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:47 30 October 2017

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell C complex could look after construction, with the existing Sizewell A and B sites to the left.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell C complex could look after construction, with the existing Sizewell A and B sites to the left.

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The out-going UK head of energy group EDF still expects the group’s planned Sizewell C power station to be generating electricity by 2031 - despite continuing controversy over the price of nuclear power.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz/
Picture: James Fletcher EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz/ Picture: James Fletcher

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz, who is due to step down this week, has said in a leaving speech that Hinkley Point C in Somerset is likely to produce its first power in 2025, with Sizewell C in Suffolk following six years later.

His comments, described as “thoughts, hopes and expectations”, are largely in line with current predictions. EDF has set no firm timeline for the construction of Sizewell C but there has been talk of improvements to the A12 being completed in time for a 10-year construction phase to begin in 2021.

However, in comments quoted in The Times, Mr de Rivaz acknowledges that EDF will have to agree a significantly cheaper “strike price” in respect of the energy produced by Sizewell C compared with the deal already secured for Hinkley Point C.

Last year, the Government agreed a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt hour for Hinkley Point, which will fall to £89.50 if EDF also goes ahead with the Sizewell scheme.

The figures raised eyebrows at the time and were further questioned last month when it emerged that strike prices of between £74.75 and £57.50 per megawatt hour had been agreed for three new offshore wind farms - thought to be the first time that the cost of energy from offshore wind has fallen below that of nuclear.

EDF Energy responded to the news by saying that new nuclear remained a necessary part of a “diverse, well-balanced” mix of low-carbon generating capacity, and was also competitive once costs related to the variable production levels of wind and solar energy were taken into account.

However, in his leaving comments, Mr de Rivaz said EDF Energy was aware that Sizewell C had to be significantly cheaper than Hinkley Point C.

The use of the same technology at Hinkley and Sizewell will help to achieve this.

He also said that he “strongly hopes” that a new nuclear plant at Bradwell in Essex, which forms part of a funding deal between EDF and the China General Nuclear Power Group, will be generating electricity by 2033.

EDF is currently working on its response to a second round of consultation in respect of Sizewell C which closed in February. A third and final round is not expected to start until next year at the earliest.

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