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Stop Sizewell C group questions UK government’s reasons for designating the project under the Regulated Asset Base model – and its secrecy about the plan.

The Secretary of State is intending to designate a company which no one knows who the owners will be. EDF and the government – both apparently intending to be minority partners in Sizewell C with 20% stakes – are continuing to negotiate with each other behind closed doors.

BEIS has today published draft reasons for designating NNB Generation Co (Sizewell C Co) as the first step towards the company being able to use a RAB funding model. All financial figures have been redacted. The BEIS press statement says “by publishing the draft reasons for designating Sizewell C under the RAB model, the government is going beyond the transparency requirements set out in legislation.”

Stop Sizewell C said: “It’s outrageous that ministers are hiding the cost to electricity bill payers
and the public purse of Sizewell C, while claiming to be transparent. By redacting the finances, it is impossible to know if the Secretary of State’s judgement on Value for Money is sound. We fail to understand why the government would not impose conditions related to the EPR reactor technology, when it has such a catastrophic track record, and one of the only working examples has been offline for almost a year in China”

Additionally we note the following: The Secretary of State is intending to designate a company which no one knows who the owners will be. EDF and the government – both apparently intending to be minority partners in Sizewell C with 20% stakes – are continuing to negotiate with each other behind closed doors.

The government intends to take a special share in Sizewell C, as a means of “protecting national security interests”, yet there is no mention of removing China General Nuclear from the project. The Value for Money assessment acknowledges that the (secret) figures provided by NNB require “uplift” (page 22 “

Given that largescale infrastructure projects have a tendency to cost more and take longer to
build than expected, the analysis has applied appropriate uplifts to these assumptions”), and conclude that “the estimated return on government investment is positive in the majority of scenarios modelled” (page 22). With no indication of the size of that majority, or the various cost
burdens, it is therefore clear that the return was negative in at least some scenarios.

The only cost for Sizewell C in the public domain is the original estimate of £20 billion, published over two years ago. Since then there have been major changes to the project and huge price hikes in construction materials. Despite references to lessons learned at other EPR projects, there are no specific conditions linked to design adaptations that will be required for Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C’s reactors basedon the experience of Taishan 1, where problems have led to the reactor
being offline for almost a year. (EDF reports, p116 “In addition [to fuel failure], a phenomenon occurring between the assemblies and a component enclosing the core has been identified, which would be linked to hydraulic stresses” and the French regulator, ASN, refers to (p14) “various
anomalies observed on the cores of the EPR reactors of Taishan“.

Such adaptations could have a serious impact on both cost and timescales. A government condition was attached to an (unused) offer of loan guarantees for Hinkley Point C, that the Flamanville EPR should be operating by December 2020. It is not expected to be operating until mid 2023 at the earliest. Finland’s Olkiluoto EPR is still testing at reduced capacity. 
Stop Sizewell C 14th June 2022
https://stopsizewellc.org/designation/

June 16, 2022 - Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK

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