UK government takes major steps forward to secure Britain’s energy independence

  • UK government confirms historic decision to back Sizewell C’s development, set to generate reliable, clean electricity for 6 million UK homes, and deliver thousands of high-value jobs in Suffolk and nationwide
  • Business Secretary commits to taking forward the Energy Bill, a major step forward in building a secure future that is powered by cheaper, cleaner British energy, for Britain
  • comes alongside government push to help households cut energy usage – and with it their bills

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps today launches a landmark package to invest now to help secure Britain’s energy independence.

Today the government is driving forward plans to build a secure energy future, creating cheaper, cleaner energy from British sources, for Britain. This includes continuing the revitalisation of the UK nuclear industry by confirming the first state backing of a nuclear project in over 30 years, part of the UK’s biggest step yet in the journey to energy freedom.

The government’s historic £700 million stake in Sizewell C is positioned at the heart of the new blueprint to Britain’s energy sovereignty, as plans to develop the new plant are approved today. This is expected to create 10,000 highly skilled jobs and provide reliable, low-carbon, power to the equivalent of 6 million homes for over 50 years.

Today’s approval comes alongside the government’s continued commitment to develop a pipeline of new nuclear projects, beyond Sizewell C. To support this, the UK is working at pace to set up Great British Nuclear, the vehicle tasked with developing a resilient pipeline of new nuclear builds, with an announcement expected early in the new year.

The driving force that will power up this long-term plan is the Energy Bill, which is being driven forward in Parliament, forming part of today’s once in a generation plan to put in place powers to shield Britain from global forces and secure energy for future generations.

It comes as the UK sets a new ambition to reduce energy demand by 15% by 2030. This is backed by a new £1 billion ECO+ insulation scheme, and a major expansion to the government’s public awareness campaign – all of which will help households cut back on energy waste and deliver warmer homes and buildings and cheaper energy bills.

Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Global gas prices are at record highs, caused by Putin’s illegal march on Ukraine.  We need more clean, affordable power generated within our borders – British energy for British homes.

Today’s historic deal giving government backing to Sizewell C’s development is crucial to this, moving us towards greater energy independence and away from the risks that a reliance on volatile global energy markets for our supply comes with.

This is at the heart of a package of measures that – together with the new Great British Nuclear and powers of the Energy Security Bill – will ensure secure supply for now, and for generations to come.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said:

Today’s investment in Sizewell C represents the biggest step on our journey to energy independence – the first state backing for a nuclear project in over 30 years. Once complete, this mega project will power millions of homes with clean, affordable, home-grown energy for decades to come.

Together with our drive to improve the nation’s energy efficiency, this package will help to permanently bring down energy bills and stop Britain being at the mercy of global gas prices beyond our control.

Simone Rossi, CEO of EDF Energy said:

This is a big vote of confidence in Sizewell C and we are very excited the government is partnering with us to prepare the project for further investment. Sizewell C will build on the achievements of Hinkley Point C and replicating its design will provide more certainty over schedule and costs. It will deliver another big boost to jobs and skills in the nuclear industry and provide huge new opportunities for communities in Suffolk. New nuclear will protect Britain from volatile global gas markets and help keep bills under control for the country’s homes and businesses.

Greater energy efficiency will strengthen Britain’s energy independence and reduce household bills permanently, and we welcome government’s action. We are ready to step up our installation rates to help more households benefit from lower bills.

The government is taking major steps to ensure British energy independence.

Investment in nuclear power

For many years the UK was a leader in the civil nuclear field, but when exchanged for gas, the UK’s nuclear industry has languished behind. That’s why today, the government has confirmed it will be pushing ahead with Sizewell C in Suffolk, following intentions set out in the Autumn Statement. This is expected to provide reliable and low carbon power to the equivalent of 6 million homes for over 50 years and, as it’s being built, will create up to 10,000 highly skilled jobs across the UK. The historic £700 million investment will enable the British

Government will become a 50% shareholder in the project’s development with EDF and will work together with the project company to raise capital investment for the project. The move is the first direct government investment in a new nuclear power project since Sizewell B, the last nuclear power station to be built in the UK, was approved for construction in 1987.

For Britain to achieve energy security, a pipeline of new nuclear is needed, alongside one large-scale project. Today the government is confirming its commitment to set up Great British Nuclear, an Arms’ Length Body (ALB) which will develop a resilient pipeline of new builds, beyond Sizewell C. With support from industry and our expert adviser Simon Bowen, this vehicle will help through every stage of the development process while ensuring these projects offer clear value for money for taxpayers and consumers. The UK government can confirm today that it will back Great British Nuclear with funding to enable the delivery of clean, safe electricity over the decades to come, protecting future generations from the high price of global fossil fuel markets, with an announcement expected in the new year.

Legislating to drive investment and to secure our energy future

The vehicle to power up the long-term plan, the Energy Bill, is on track and will be driven forward in Parliament. As the most significant piece of primary energy legislation since 2013, the Bill will liberate private investment and drive jobs and growth by helping to transform the UK’s energy industry. The Bill has a strong focus on enabling the deployment of homegrown, low-carbon technologies such as turbocharging the nascent CCUS and hydrogen industries, in which we already have a global head start. It will also encourage competition in the energy sector – and above all it will help to create clean jobs and cheaper bills.

These mark major steps forward in making Britain an independent and self-sufficient energy producing nation, ensuring consumers across the country can benefit from warmer, energy-efficient homes and buildings which are powered by home-grown clean energy.

Boost energy efficiency

Warmer homes and buildings are key to reducing bills and will create jobs along the way. That is why the government is committed to driving improvements in energy efficiency with a new ambition to reduce the UK’s final energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030 and new ECO+ insulation scheme, announced earlier this week.

To further support the government’s new energy demand reduction target, the government has expanded its public awareness campaign to help reduce bills for households and protect vulnerable people over the winter and beyond. Backed by £18 million, this campaign will complement existing government support schemes. It will use public messaging to increase consumers’ capability to reduce their own household usage and bills through making their homes more energy efficient for next winter while equipping vulnerable groups with the right information for reducing energy usage without harming their health.

Complementing existing government support schemes such as the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support Scheme, the government’s expanded energy demand campaign will centre around key actions the government is advising the public to take, such as:

  • Reducing boiler flower temperature (saving households approximately £100 per year)
  • Turning down radiators when they aren’t in use (saving households approximately £70 per year)
  • Taking action to reduce heat loss from a property such as draught-proofing windows (saving households approximately £60 per year)

This information will also be available on the existing Help for Households website.

Notes to editors

Sizewell C

Ministers have made a commitment to reaching a Final Investment Decision on at least one large-scale nuclear power station this Parliament, subject to value for money and all relevant approvals. This objective was first set out in the Energy White Paper 2020, and has since been included in the government’s Net Zero and British Energy Security Strategies.

The UK government’s £679 million investment in Sizewell C will support the project’s continued development. EDF will also provide additional investment to match the government’s stake in the project. The government will work with the project company to seek to attract new third-party investment to help finance the project’s construction and operation

If approved, Sizewell C’s supply chain strategy sees 70% of the value of the project’s construction and operations contracts being placed with UK businesses, creating and supporting thousands of well-paid jobs in Suffolk and across the UK’s national nuclear industry.

The investment also allows for China General Nuclear’s (CGN) exit from the project, including buy-out costs, any tax due and commercial arrangements.

Regulated Asset Base (RAB)

Earlier this week, the Business Secretary designated Sizewell C as the UK’s first project to use the newly established Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model for nuclear. RAB is a tried and tested funding model that has already been used for other major infrastructure, such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel and London Heathrow Terminal 5.

Using the RAB model is expected to further reduce the costs of electricity to consumers, by cutting the cost of new nuclear project finance, which is the biggest driver of nuclear project costs.

Overall, the lower cost of financing a large-scale nuclear project through this scheme is expected to lead to savings for consumers of at least £30 billion on each project throughout its lifetime compared to the existing Contracts for Difference scheme.

Energy Awareness Campaign

Government is expanding its public awareness campaign to help reduce bills for households and protect vulnerable people over the winter and beyond.

The public awareness campaign will increase the reach of messaging around energy usage in the most cost-efficient way possible, using our full range of partners to communicate with the public.

Messaging will increase consumers’ capability to reduce their own household usage and bills through the most effective actions; drive take-up of energy efficiency measures to prepare homes for next winter; and equip vulnerable groups with the right information about how to reduce their energy usage without harming their health.

This messaging will be made available on the government’s existing Help For Households website.

This increased information and focus on energy efficiency will be closely aligned with the Help for Households campaign, which is already providing information to the public on support available this winter.

Our guidance focuses on those measures which are not already adopted by the majority of households in the UK, and where there is a positive financial impact for households without reducing comfort or putting people at risk this winter.

Energy Bill

  • With around 250 clauses, the Energy Bill is the most significant piece of primary legislation since 2013, set to liberate private investment in clean technologies, protect consumers, and reform the UK’s energy system so that it is efficient, safe and resilient.
  • The Bill’s passage is dependent on the parliamentary timetable.
  • The Bill contains a range of measures including, but not limited, to:
  • bring forward business models for CO2 transport and storage, industrial carbon capture, and low carbon hydrogen production
  • enable a hydrogen village trial in 2025
  • establish a Future System Operator
  • ensure that heat networks are regulated so that consumers are protected
  • reduce the risk of fuel supply disruption from accidents, severe weather, malicious threats and more.

Link: UK government takes major steps forward to secure Britain’s energy independence
Source: Assent Information Services