Last week, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the green light for the Sizewell C nuclear power plant, saying the Government would invest £700million in the £20billion project. In one of his final acts in office, Mr Johnson said the UK was suffering skyrocketing energy bills as a result of Labour’s failure to invest in nuclear energy. A nuclear reactor like Sizewell C could provide a major boost to Britain’s energy security, which has been battered over the past year as the country’s reliance on gas was punished as the war in Ukraine triggered astronomical price rises.
However, despite the UK’s willingness to go ahead with Sizewell C, reports suggest France has rejected Mr Johnson’s proposal, warning that it won’t be able to build the reactor in the timeframe requested.
A number of sources familiar with the matter have already told Le Figaro, a French publication, that EDF’s board of directors had voted against the Government investment decision negotiated with EDF to build a pair of EPR nuclear reactors at Sizewell.
The topic had reportedly been brought to the table by the EDF’s CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, but was voted down by a majority of administrators.
Sources told the French paper, that Emmanuel Macron’s government had indicated that it will not implement the Sizewell agreement as agreed, within the planned timetable.
Two sources noted that the French state is waiting for the submission of audit reports.
These in-depth studies carried out by third parties would require several more weeks of work before being finalised.
Another source said: “It was not possible to finish it before Boris Johnson’s departure”.
However, Le Figaro noted that the French state wants to go quickly, as the contract represents more than €1billion of turnover for EDF, and €4.5billion in orders for its industrial subsidiary Framatome.
The financial impact of this agreement on EDF is of particular interest to Mr Macron’s government, which is on the verge of renationalising the energy group.
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“It’s probably to do with the money, everybody is now thinking about the money, which nobody has.
“Does EDF have the will, capacity and finance to construct a new nuclear at Sizewell C? Do the French have other priorities?
“The administrators and finance people have voted against it and it’s really odd. Have the French got cold feet?”
EDF has faced a string of financial woes in the past year, leading to it finally being completely nationalised by the French Government.
The company is facing a massive bill as over half of its nuclear reactors are currently offline due to maintenance work or defects.