The U.K. government has warmed up its flagging nuclear power program with government plans announced April 7 for 24 GW over the next 30 years, including small modular reactors possibly coming on line early in the next decade. 

Nuclear power is at the heart of the country’s new energy policy, at a time of surging fossil fuel prices, net-zero carbon dioxide targets and the war in Ukraine, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "This will be central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels ... and boosting our diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long-term," he noted.

While the UK’s current 3,200-MW Hinkley Point C project in England struggles to meet its latest 2026 completion deadline, its identical twin, Sizewell C, is ready to start construction, subject to an agreement with government.

Having previously allocated up to $2.2 billion for at least one new nuclear power plant by the end of 2025, the government has been "in constructive negotiations" with Electricité de France (EdF) over its Sizewell C project in Suffolk, England for over a year. 

Sizewell C was the last planned project standing from an earlier program after developers of a proposed 3,400-MW plant in Cumbria, England, pulled out in 2018. It was followed by the 2019 shelving of the Wylfa Newydd project in North Wales and the Oldbury-on-Severn project in South Gloucestershire, England—which totaled 5,800-MW.

Wylfa was named as a possible small modular reactor candidate in the future "subject to technology readiness," the government said. But contingent on government agreement, Sizewell is ready to begin about 10 years of construction "within months," according to Stuart Crooks, managing EdF director for Hinkley Point C. 

Started in 2016, the project is just over 50% complete but likely to be delayed beyond the latest 2026 deadline, he says, adding "we are reviewing our schedule and our cost base."

More than 22,000 people are engaged in Hinkley Point C work, including about 7,500 on site, according to Crooks. While delayed, he says the project is on a learning curve, which should be continued at Sizewell.