UK to invest extra $1.7 billion in Sizewell C nuclear power station

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain will invest an extra 1.3 billion pounds ($1.65 billion) in the Sizewell C nuclear power station in southeast England, the government said on Monday, making it the majority shareholder in the project.

The government said the funding, the largest to date, would allow early construction work to continue at the plant being built by French energy giant EDF before a final investment decision expected later this year.

The fresh money, which the government said was made available from existing budgets, comes in addition to a 700 million-pound funding pledge in 2022, as well as a further 511 million pounds agreed last summer.

“It’s a win for our energy security and sends a strong message to investors that Britain is serious about its low-carbon, homegrown nuclear-powered future, providing reliable, cheaper power for British families,” Nuclear Minister Andrew Bowie said in the statement.

Last September the government opened the search for private investment in the plant, which is expected to produce around 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power around 6 million homes for over 60 years.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which had sent energy prices soaring in 2022, had caused major countries around the world to rethink their energy security.

Currently, about 15% of Britain’s energy needs are met by nuclear power, a drop from 27% in the 1990s as older plants have been decommissioned and new ones are taking time to build.

The government hopes to quadruple nuclear power generation from 6 GW to up to 24 GW by 2050.

Setting out its nuclear goals earlier in the month, the government said it aims to speed up action on new nuclear projects by introducing a time frame requiring an investment decision every five years from 2030 to 2044.

($1 = 0.7865 pound)

(Reporting by Muvija M.; Editing by Andrew MacAskill and Jonathan Oatis)