Nuclear back on energy agenda as government mulls new £20bn Sizewell plant

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The government confirmed today that nuclear has a key role to play in the UK’s energy future as it unveiled detailed plans for Britain’s strategy going forward.

Alongside a white paper focused on developing renewable technology, Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma confirmed the government would start discussions with French group EDF over the construction of a new £20bn plant, Sizewell C, in Suffolk.

EDF is already miles behind schedule with construction of the hugely expensive and controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset but said that any new development at Sizewell would be much cheaper.

EDF needed a generous electricity price guarantee to continue with Hinkley Point and discussions are likely to centre whether something similar will be available at Sizewell C.

The white paper meanwhile included a wide range of measures to help the UK reach its net zero carbon emission by 2050 as well as ways to helping consumers.

This includes the establishment of a new UK Emissions Trading scheme (UK ETS) from the 1 January to replace the current EU-run scheme post-Brexit.

Prime minister Boris Johnson had already outlined his plan for 40Gw of offshore wind capacity and today’s white paper added that £1bn would also be invested to set up four low carbon capture clusters by 2023 with one to be net zero one by 2040.

A further £1.3bn will be invested in electric vehicle charging points and £1bn to support battery production with the emphasis focused on job creation in the Midlands and the North.

Lower-income families will get £6.7bn of support though many of these schemes such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme and Green Homes Grant are already in place and being extended.

Fossil fuel boilers meanwhile will be phased out with, by 2030, new heating systems to either be low carbon or that can be converted to a clean fuel supply.

Sharma said the White paper measures would support up to 200,00 jobs over the next decade as well as keeping bills affordable.

Hugh McNeal, chief executive at Renewable UK, added the white paper gave greater clarity to the companies investing across the UK to deliver our net zero emissions target.

“Wind and renewable energy will be at the centre of our future energy system, providing the clean electricity and green hydrogen we need to decarbonise our economy.“

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