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Boris Johnson’s Bold Nuclear Bet Has Echoes ofThatcher Failure.

Britain is poised to usher in another nuclear renaissance, except this
time the government says it will actually happen. A lot has changed since
previous promises — the push to zero out emissions, the high political
stakes to ensure energy security and a different financing model mean now
is the time to build nuclear power stations, energy minister Greg Hands

“We want the U.K. nuclear industry in a fantastic renaissance, to
be able to avail itself of a variety of developers and financiers,” Hands
said in an interview Tuesday in his office in Westminster. “The Russian
invasion of Ukraine has put a premium on energy security, and one of the
huge advantages of nuclear is that it is, very largely, homegrown.”

ED. note – Whaa-aat? Home grown? – they have to import all the nuclear fuel

It’s not the first time the U.K. has tried to revive its nuclear
industry: efforts have been underway since the 1980s under different
governments. But just one plant is being built — Hinkley Point C.

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to building as many as
eight nuclear plants by 2050 in the government’s energy-security strategy
released last month. He tweeted Monday after visiting the plant in
Hartlepool that “instead of a new one every decade, we’re going to
build one every year.”

Achieving that will require a significant
acceleration in the pace of development, and only Electricite de France SA
has firm plans for a large-scale facility at Sizewell. “The U.K.
government has a lot of work to do to deliver on this target,”
BloombergNEF said in an April report.

Hands said the government is talking
with Westinghouse Electric Co., Toshiba Corp., state-owned Korea Electric
Power Corp. and EDF, among others, about building new plants. The intention
is to get them approved this decade to meet the 2050 target.

The biggest hurdle is financing: nuclear plants cost about 20 billion pounds ($25
billion) and compete for investor capital with renewables, which provide
returns much quicker. Boris Johnson’s Bold Nuclear Bet Has Echoes of
Thatcher Failure.

An overhaul of the financing mechanism for atomic plants
was meant to attract more funds. The regulated asset base, or RAB, model is
supposed to encourage private investors and dilute the construction risk
shouldered by the developer and taxpayers. “Traditionally, the problem
with nuclear has always been that you put a lot of money in, and you
don’t get any return for at least 10 years,” Hands said. “In the RAB
model, you allow the investor to get a return from really the point at
which construction starts rather than the point at which electricity is

Hands and the department of business, energy and industrial
strategy is working with investment minister Gerry Grimstone and the
department for international trade to attract investors. The financing
model has been “well-received,” Hands said.

The government hasn’t
ruled out taking a stake in the Sizewell project, Hands said. While
building up a large pipeline of nuclear projects may help the U.K.’s
long-term security of supply, it does nothing to alleviate the upward
pressure on energy prices currently affecting ordinary Britons. 

Bloomberg 4th May 2022

May 7, 2022 - Posted by | politics, UK

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