The secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, has been at Hinkley Point C to see how work is progressing.
Kwasi Kwarteng toured Europe’s largest construction site with the exchequer secretary to the treasury, Helen Whately. The chief executive of EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy, accompanied the ministers as they were shown around by the team building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation.
The visit follows government commitments to new nuclear set out in the Energy White Paper, and passage through the House of Commons this week of the Nuclear Financing Bill, which will help lower the costs of building new nuclear such as Sizewell C.
The government has committed to putting nuclear at the heart of the UK’s future energy mix, along with wind and solar.
EDF, owner of Hinkley Point C, says the site will be crucial in helping the country hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 by moving the UK away from high-polluting fossil fuels.
The ministers were shown how construction has maintained momentum, despite the challenges caused by the pandemic. Experience gained from building the first reactor unit has allowed teams to deliver the second more efficiently, such as the liner ring being built 25% quicker than the same part for unit 1.
Apprentices also met the ministers and shared their experiences of gaining industry experience at Hinkley Point C. More than 850 have been trained so far, strengthening the UK’s skilled workforce. The project is expected to reach its goal of creating 1,000 apprenticeships later this year.
Mr Kwarteng said: “The UK Government recognises that large-scale nuclear is the only technology available to provide continuous, low carbon electricity at scale. In order to strengthen Britain’s energy security and reduce our exposure to volatile global gas prices, we are firmly committed to deploying new nuclear, as seen through the construction of Hinkley Point C.
“To build on Hinkley Point C’s success, we’re backing the next generation of projects through our landmark Nuclear Bill. With a new funding model on the statute books, we will be able to attract British funds and other institutional investors to lower the cost of financing new nuclear power and, importantly, help to lower electricity bills for consumers and businesses.
“It has been remarkable to see how construction work is progressing and to meet with some of the workers driving forward one of Britain’s biggest infrastructure projects. New nuclear is not only at the heart of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs, boost apprenticeships and drive economic growth.”