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London gives go-ahead for £20bn nuclear plant to secure UK’s energy future, reopens talks with French electricity giant EDF

London gives go-ahead for £20bn nuclear plant to secure UK’s energy future, reopens talks with French electricity giant EDF
Amid fears the UK could suffer widespread blackouts in the near future, the British government has restarted talks with French energy giant EDF to discuss possible state financing for part of the Sizewell C nuclear plant.

The planned Suffolk power station, a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset, could meet seven percent (3.2 gigawatts of electricity) of the UK energy's demand once operational sometime in the early 2030s. 

As a number of existing plants come offline throughout the early 2020s, the British government is scrambling to produce a viable energy policy which will meet the UK’s energy security needs, especially as the Brexit saga nears a close. 

Westminster will have to strike a delicate balance between keeping the lights on and following through on its commitment to transition to net zero emissions by 2050, with nuclear featuring heavily in current plans.

Downing Street is reportedly considering taking a direct financial stake in the construction of the project as talks have restarted following a hiatus triggered by both cost concerns and the involvement of the Chinese state nuclear agency, China General Nuclear Power (CGN). 

CGN, which partnered with EDF in 2016, and has a 20 percent stake in the project, is considering withdrawing amid rising tensions between London and Beijing, marked by Huawei's recent exclusion from planned 5G networks as well as a wider clampdown on foreign investment.

Also on rt.com UK government begins purge of China’s Huawei from country’s 5G rollout

UK state involvement would mean, however, that the British taxpayers would foot some of the bill in the event of likely project delays or cost overruns which plague most nuclear plant developments. 

Meanwhile, opponents of the project, including the Stop Sizewell C campaign, argue that the proposed plant will have a “devastating” impact on the local area and run the risk of damaging protected habitats. They also claim there are better, greener alternatives like wind. 

Some online decried the thinking behind relying on both France and China to provide both the funding and the expertise needed for the project.

Meanwhile, the government has committed to cutting energy bills by automatically switching consumers to better deals, replacing fossil fuel boilers, introducing a carbon trading initiative which would replace the EU's carbon market, as well as pledging financial support for fossil fuel dependent regions of the country, including the North Sea. 

These lofty ambitions were set out as part of Downing Street’s latest Energy White Paper

It sets out exactly how the British government plans to turn “climate ambition into climate action” through a “decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels,” according to Alok Sharma, the business and energy secretary. 

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