Sizewell C has been given a fresh cash boost by the government, which has poured a further £170m into the proposed nuclear power plant.
The funds will be used to prepare Sizewell C for future construction and expand the project’s workforce.
This is on top of nearly £700m of taxpayers’ money previously allocated to the project for early development work and for buying out China General Nuclear’s stake in the project.
Energy secretary Grant Shapps spent around £100m buying state-backed China General Nuclear out of its 20 per cent stake earlier this year.
Under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the government pledged to provide up to £1.7bn in funding so that a final investment decision on the power plant could be made by the end of this parliament in late 2024.
French energy giant EDF, which now holds a 50 per cent stake in the project, is overseeing the construction of the plant.
However, both the government and EDF are hoping to reduce their stakes to 20 per cent once private investors hop on board. EDF is yet to announce its final investment decision, where it will set out its financial commitments related to the project.
No official estimate has been publicly disclosed for Sizewell C’s costs, but estimates have varied from £20bn-£35bn.
Sister plant Hinkley Point C, which is deep into construction and is a similar design, will cost an estimated £33bn when completed, around £10bn over budget following pandemic driven delays and challenging economic conditions.
While Shapps has confirmed talks are going well with potential suitors, no official announcements have been made so far, with media reports earlier this year indicating that the plant was struggling for support from pension groups and UK investors.
The government is targeting a more than tripling of the country’s nuclear power generation over the next three decades, which aims to increase its role in the country’s energy supply mix from 15 per cent to 25 per cent.
It launched a new industry vehicle Great British Nuclear (GBN) earlier this month to help oversee the rapid expansion of nuclear power.
Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Sizewell C represents the bridge between the ongoing construction of Hinkley Point C and our longer-term ambition to provide up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity from homegrown nuclear energy by 2050.
“Our new nuclear fleet will provide clean, reliable, and abundant energy whilst driving down bills, boosting economic growth and ensure that the UK is never held to energy ransom by tyrants like Putin.”
A spokesperson for Sizewell C said: “This is another big endorsement of Sizewell C and will put us in an even stronger position to begin full construction. As well as continuing with site preparation, we are bringing forward funding for some local community projects.
“We are excited by the growing momentum in the project and looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have for people in East Suffolk and in the rest of Britain.”