Government to look at state investment to ensure new electricity supply
5 Jun 2018
The Government has indicated that a major public investment is likely in the development of a new nuclear plant on the site of the Wylfa nuclear power station in Anglesey, North Wales.
The proposed plant would have an operational life of six decades and generate sufficient power for five million homes in the UK, providing up to 6% of the country’s energy supply.
Estimates of the cost have varied between £12 billion and £15 biillion for the project led by Hitachi-owned developer Horizon Nuclear Power and supported by the Japanese government.
The plan has received enthusiastic support from the Welsh executive, which stands to benefit from the creation of 9,000 building jobs plus a further 1,000 to maintain and run the site after it opens in the middle of the next decade.
This will reduce overall project costs and, in turn, the cost to consumers as we transition to a low carbon electricity system
Tom Greatrex, chief executive, Nuclear Industry Association
While Horizon’s proposals have only recently been submitted to the planning inspectorate for consent, Whitehall and Cardiff are keen to examine a funding formula that would combine private and public investment.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the reiteration of UK government support for civil nuclear as a vital element of a future low carbon power supply “is good news towards meeting our decarbonisation targets”.
“The industry particularly welcomes the news of government commitment to consider different funding models, including direct investment, for financing nuclear new build projects.
"This will reduce overall project costs and, in turn, the cost to consumers as we transition to a low carbon electricity system able to meet our future energy challenges.”
He added that nuclear power remained the single largest source of low carbon electricity – providing more than 20% of the power the country generates for homes, businesses and public services.
Privatisation of energy, which began in the Thatcher era, saw a massive reduction in the proportion of state subsidy for projects.
However, mounting concern over the UK’s reliance on imported energy and the financial problems arising from nuclear projects such as the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, have increased government desire to exert more strategic and financial control over the process.