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Former Minister Warns Of ‘Real Danger’ Facing UK Nuclear Projects

By David Dalton
27 February 2017

Former Minister Warns Of ‘Real Danger’ Facing UK Nuclear Projects
A mockup of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in England.

27 Feb (NucNet): There is a real danger that planned nuclear projects will fail to come on stream before 2030 unless the UK government agrees to intervene, Tim Yeo, a former environment minister and energy committee chairman, says in a letter to business secretary Greg Clark.

Mr Yeo, who is also chairman of the pro-nuclear lobby group New Nuclear Watch Europe, says the existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced at the planned Hinkley Point C, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before a nuclear plant begins producing power.

The government should offer loans to developers which can be paid back once the plant comes on stream, or take an equity stake in the project which could be sold off to investors when construction is complete. “In neither case would the government’s support constitute a permanent subsidy. It would directly cut the cost of electricity produced by the new plant because the government’s borrowing costs will be lower than those of any private investor,” Mr Yeo writes.

The continuing technical challenges faced by EDF at Flamanville-3 in France pose “a real risk” that further delays at Hinkley Point C will occur, the letter says. The Horizon project to build UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa Newydd in north Wales has not yet secured investors and Toshiba’s financial problems have cast doubt on the future of NuGen’s plans for Westinghouse AP1000 units at Moorside in Cumbria, northwest England.

The HPR1000, or ‘Hualong One’ technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation will deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment.

“These uncertainties are aggravated by the prospect of UK withdrawal from Euratom, an unhelpful consequence of Brexit. This combination of circumstances means that without clear leadership from the government there is a danger that no new nuclear capacity will come on stream in the UK before 2030.”

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