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“Great British Nuclear “- it’s high time that they came clean on what this will cost.

Bowen is right to think Britain’s nuclear plans will require “substantial” taxpayer support.

It’s high time the government spelt out how much financial fuel it’s willing to burn.

Maybe Great British Nuclear will prove as successful as Great British
Railways: another government invention still stuck in the sidings while the
strike-bound network grinds to a halt.

But at least Simon Bowen is after an
improvement on that. Who he? The industry adviser picked by ministers to
make their nuclear nirvana a reality. He’s setting up GBN, the “flagship
body” to corral the construction of up to 24 gigawatts of new capacity by
2050: a shopping list, he says, that will involve at least three more
mega-nukes on top of Hinkley Point C, plus a litter of small modular
reactors.

As he told MPs on the science committee, the new body will be the
“glue within the industry to drive the nuclear programme”. Always
assuming it gets set up, of course — because you can already sense
Bowen’s frustration with the government.

In a post-Ukraine war push for
energy security, it was Boris Johnson who declared that Britain should
“go nuclear and go large”, not that he spelt out the eye-popping costs
to the taxpayer. But Bowen’s report into how the new body should work,
complete with 25 recommendations, has since been passed from Liz Truss to
Rishi Sunak and deemed top secret.

To boot, from the latest PM he sees no
“overarching strategy” on what’s needed for energy security: the
“quantum of nuclear” or other technologies. That’s crucial because
“the investment required in nuclear is substantial”, he says, with the
same stuff underpinning successful international projects: “A substantial
amount of government leadership and fiscal support, not just in terms of
financing but who bears the risk.”

No private financier can see how
Sizewell gets built without the government injecting £5 billion-plus equity
and insulating investors from most construction risk. Build three big nukes
and you treble that problem before taking on small modular reactors — an
untried technology to which Rolls-Royce’s new boss, Tufan Erginbilgic,
seems disinclined to bring blue-sky finance. Add it up and Bowen is right
to think Britain’s nuclear plans will require “substantial” taxpayer
support. It’s high time the government spelt out how much financial fuel
it’s willing to burn.

Times 19th Jan 2023

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/great-british-nuclear-puts-treasury-on-alert-jjt987rlr

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January 21, 2023 - Posted by | politics, UK

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