The Sizewell C Project

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The Sizewell C Project

Received 24 September 2020
From John C Walton

Representation

As a Fellow of UCL, I am aware of the research of its Energy Institute and specifically the work of Dr Paul Dorfman who is a member of several bodies concerned with nuclear power, including INRAG, NTW and CERRIE; he led the European Environment Agency response to Fukushima, and is also a member of the European Network for Social and Environmental Responsibility. He has characterised Nuclear as an old 20th Century industrial failure and has pointed out massive cost and time overruns whenever this type of reactor has been built. This raises two immediate questions: the timescale for construction projected by EDF ignores this history of catastrophic delays: in the case of Flamanville completion seems likely to be at least a decade late. This implies that the environmental damage could be even worse than EDF suggest. Second, a highly sceptical report by the French National Audit Office casts doubt on EDF's involvement in Sizewell C, not least because the (UK) National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have been highly critical of Hinkley Point's high energy price guarantee, which is not likely to be extended to Sizewell C. EDF effectively requires the support of the French State (83% owner) which is already hugely embarrassed by Flamanville. What happens if, some way into construction, the French Government pulls the plug citing an embarrassment too far, either for profitability, delay or safety reasons? The German government is indeed in the process of phasing out all nuclear. EDF point to Sizewell's savings on carbon footprint but this is very back- loaded. Initially, and through construction, there is a hugely negative carbon impact and this is precisely the crucial period when we do not want to risk a "tipping point". During the past few years, the extraordinary collapse in the cost of renewables has completely undermined the economic case for Sizewell C. Its supporters have cited carbon (but admitting that it is no better than renewables) and energy security (grey days with little wind) I have reason to believe that a technology to store renewable energy at an extremely attractive, highly economic price is about to be revealed and prototypes built. Why would we persist with a project which, because of associated high energy prices, is bad for the economy? Given these cost/benefit assumptions; the German Government's decision to focus on safety and withdraw from nuclear; and, bearing in mind the possibility of a "black swan" safety incident (probably at least as "probable" as the current Covid pandemic) which would be a catastrophe for East Anglia, the case against proceeding seems overwhelming.