Energy policy in the United Kingdom

A previous topic was on the energy policy in France, and their emphasis on nuclear power to produce low carbon electricity.

The British government is also going strong into nuclear power.

From the link:
“Nuclear is the perfect antidote to the energy challenges facing Britain - it’s green, cheaper in the long term and will ensure the UK’s energy security for the long-term,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “This is the right long-term decision and is the next step in our commitment to nuclear power, which puts us on course to achieve net-zero by 2050 in a measured and sustainable way. This will ensure our future energy security and create the jobs and skills we need to level up the country and grow our economy.”

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho added: “We’re making the biggest investment in domestic nuclear energy in 70 years … From large gigawatt projects to small modular reactors, the UK’s wider nuclear revival will quadruple our nuclear capacity by 2050 – helping to power Britain from Britain.”

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EDF, the French power company, is currently building Hinkley Point C in the southwest of England. They recently completed a major milestone by placing the containment dome on Unit 1 with a huge crane.

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Construction is now approved for Sizewell C, which is located on the eastern coast of England. As with the Hinkley Point plants, Sizewell C will consist of two EPR reactors.

  • Pete

How long does it take the Brits to build a nuclear plant? Ours must be at least five years. Is theirs better? Better regs?

As of last month, Unit 1 at Hinkley Point C is estimated to take about 9 years. Construction started in December 2018, and the first unit may go on-line in 2027. There were some COVID related delays. Plus, the UK hasn’t built any nuclear plants in a long time, so they need to relearn a lot of skills on how to make a large project like this work. If they can really be committed to several new projects in the coming years, then they should get better and more efficient.

The same problem exists here in the US. The US nuclear industry is going to lose a lot of experience and lessons learned when the Vogtle projects are complete, because there isn’t another project immediately following on Vogtle.

  • Pete

Latest dates for Hinkley Point are referenced in the following link…


The British appear to be pretty bad at it, even with French help. Thus far, Hinckley Point has been a disaster. It is way behind schedule and way, way, way over budget. It has gotten so expensive the Chinese company helping finance it dropped out and won’t provide any more money. The British government said they won’t provide any new money either, so that means EDF, the company building it, is on the hook.

This makes things a little awkward because EDF is owned by the French government, and EDF is already in financial trouble. I suspect the French government isn’t excited about bailing out a British power plant.


Just saw an update on Hinkley point this morning. Higher costs and more delays, with more delays on the horizon.

If I understand the reporting correctly, the current costs are being reported in 2015 pounds. If we include inflation, costs are now estimated to about $56 billion in todays dollars.

Going from memory a bit, so my numbers might be off, but I recall the IAEA estimated that due to the age of the global nuclear fleet, about ten reactors a year will be shut down, which means there would need to be ten new reactors a year just to maintain the current nuclear fleet.

Last year, six new reactors were started, five of them in China.

PARIS/LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - French utility EDF on Tuesday again pushed back the start date on its long-delayed 3.2-gigawatt (GW) Hinkley Point C reactor plant in Britain to at least 2029, with a new estimated cost of between 31 billion and 34 billion pounds ($43.06 billion) based on 2015 values…

…EDF said there are two other possible scenarios: the first seeing a delay until 2030 with the same cost; the second envisages that the project will be postponed until 2031.


In another step toward the UK developing more nuclear power capacity, an agreement was recently announced between Westinghouse and Community Nuclear Power, a private limited company in the UK.

The AP300 design was announced last year, and is a smaller version of the AP1000 Westinghouse plant that is already in service in China and the US. The AP300 will need to go through design acceptance in the UK, but the larger AP1000 has already been approved for use, so the SMR version should be able to be licensed.

More on the AP300, if you are interested.

  • Pete

“The AP300 SMR, 300MWe (990MWth), is based on the licensed and operating AP1000 pressurized light water technology that has demonstrated industry leading reliability.”

Smaller pressurized water reactor. Not a molten salt (or liquid sodium metal) design.

Saw this pop up in my newsfeed yesterday. EDF believes the UK government will bail out the Hinkley Point plant. The UK government says “not so fast.”

The article doesn’t come out and say it, but suggests that because Hinkley Point is such a large part of the UK energy plan, the government might not have a choice.

However, the two nuclear projects are a cornerstone of Britain’s energy security strategy and efforts to decarbonise its electricity grid in the coming decades. Hinkley Point C alone is supposed to supply power for some 6mn homes.

Article was not paywalled for me.

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I managed to view it using the Google search loophole.

If necessary, I suspect they will delay start of major construction at the new Sizewell C project in eastern England, in order to pay for completion of Hinkley Point in the west.

Meanwhile, EDF says its finances are looking better, now that most of its nuclear plants are back in service following inspection and maintenance regarding some stress corrosion issues in some of the plants.

As I have written several times, the EPR design is big, expensive, and complicated.

If I were EDF, I would seriously look at changing Sizewell C to the newer EPR-2 design, which is supposed to be cheaper to build, but provides the same power output as the original EPR.

  • Pete

They are setting a world record on the cost of nuclear power. I thought that the $35 billion cost for Vogtle 3&4 was going to remain a world record for decades.

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