EDF starts planning for second new UK nuclear plant

Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:00am EDT

* EDF Energy to start public consultation in late Nov

* No start-up date for new Sizewell C nuclear plant

LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - EDF Energy, the UK arm of France's state-owned utility, on Friday started planning procedures to build a second new nuclear plant in Britain, despite searching for a partner to help finance its first new UK nuclear plant in Somerset.

The company, already Britain's biggest nuclear power producer, announced on Friday its intention to start public consultation, the first step of planning procedures, for the new project at Sizewell in Suffolk at the end of November.

"We are very pleased to signal the start of our formal consultation for Sizewell C. It demonstrates our clear intent to progress our role at the forefront of the UK's nuclear renaissance," said Richard Mayson, director of planning and external affairs for EDF Energy's new build division.

A spokeswoman said it was too early to give a start-up date for the Sizewell project but EDF, together with French nuclear reactor designer Areva, plans to build four of Areva's European Pressurised water Reactors (EPRs) in Britain by 2025, a programme British utility Centrica also owns a 20 percent stake in.

The partners' first project at Hinkley Point C in Somerset had been expected to start operating in 2018, but planning delays following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan have delayed the start-up.

EDF also said it was considering taking further partners on board to help finance its UK new build projects.

Costs for building EPRs in Finland and France have escalated, with the Finnish plant at Olkiluoto costing 6 billion euros after a five-year start-up delay.

The British government counts on the construction of new nuclear plants to help keep the lights on in the coming decades and is planning to reform the electricity market in a way that rewards producers of low-carbon energy, including nuclear plants, with a guaranteed power price.

The government and EDF are currently in discussions about the level for such a price for the utility's Hinkley Point project and a decision is expected before the end of the year, when EDF plans to make a final investment decision on the project.