UK govt mulls buying stakes in nuclear plants, minister says - report

October 7 (Renewables Now) – The British government is exploring ways to progress energy funding, which may see it take equity stakes in facilities such as Sizewell C, a nuclear plant to be built by French utility EDF (EPA:EDF), energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said as cited by the Times on Tuesday.

The UK Treasury is evaluating the regulated asset base (RAB) model to support private investment in future nuclear plants but is looking at means to have "upside" from its participation so as to prevent public infrastructure funding amounting to multibillion-pound liabilities, Kwarteng was cited as saying.

The RAB model is a form of public-private partnership (PPP) under which a regulator determines public funding for private infrastructure investors that would allow those to recoup costs such as investment in new infrastructure.

The British government is likely to publish a white paper, that is an in-depth report that could serve to formulate policies, in November, according to Kwarteng. However, the details of what shape crucial public support for private investment in nuclear power would take reportedly remain to be hammered out.

The UK government is said to have offered to buy one third of the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station in Anglesey, Wales before its Japanese owner, Hitachi, decided to withdraw from the project in mid-September. Hitachi's subsidiary in charge of developing the plant, Horizon Nuclear Power Wylfa Ltd, later asked the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to postpone its planning consent decision until December 31 due to ongoing discussions with interested third parties, signalling the project may not be defunct.

EDF Energy, the French company's UK subsidiary, has attracted a consortium of British industrial groups and trade unions, which in July called on the British government to back Sizewell C or run the risk of seriously undermining the country’s nuclear energy capability. The facility is planned to be almost identical to Hinkley Point C, another plant EDF is building in Somerset, but its construction is estimated to be slightly cheaper at GBP 20 billion (USD 25.8bn/EUR 21.9bn).

The British government has set 2050 as the target date by which to eliminate all carbon emissions.

(GBP 1.0 = USD 1.288/EUR 1.095)


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