Nuclear Politics

UK Infrastructure Strategy / Government Plans Recognise Role Of Nuclear In Reaching Climate Goals

By Kamen Kraev
26 November 2020

Public financing for nuclear under consideration
Government Plans Recognise Role Of Nuclear In Reaching Climate Goals
The UK government has released a national infrastructure strategy paper which confirms earlier plans to invest in nuclear power as a way to put the UK on the path to meeting its net zero emissions target by 2050.

The strategy aims to deliver an “infrastructure revolution”, defined as “a radical improvement” in the quality of the UK’s infrastructure and will also seek to “address the long-term issues that have held back UK infrastructure.”

The paper outlines four focus areas: levelling up communities across the UK through investment in rural areas, towns and cities; the government will continue to decarbonise the UK’s power, heat and transport networks and take steps to adapt to the risks posed by climate change; boost private investor confidence to take part in infrastructure projects; and take steps to improve the procurement and planning of such projects.

According to the strategy, nuclear power has long played an important role in UK power generation and will continue to do so under the condition it can be delivered on time and within budget.

“Nuclear is a proven, value-for-money source of reliable low carbon power which can complement renewables”, the paper says.

The national infrastructure strategy confirms prime minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for “a green industrial revolution” that includes investing up to £525m to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors.

The paper says that apart from considering a regulated asset base (RAB) model for the financing of nuclear plants, the government will also continue to consider the potential role of public finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.

According to Vincent Zabielski, a specialist nuclear lawyer at London-based law firm Pillsbury, while the new strategy does not provide detail on whether the RAB model will make it to the core of investment efforts, the strategy is of “huge” symbolic importance, providing a sign of confidence that nuclear will play a role in meeting UK climate goals.

“Committing money to a suite of large scale reactors, alongside the recent ten point plan's commitment to develop small modular technology, will provide significant reassurance to the sector,” he said.

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