The Government has launched a consultation on a new way of funding new nuclear projects. This “Regulated Asset Base” model is already widely used for UK infrastructure. If applied to Sizewell C, it would cut the cost of financing and lead to significant savings for consumers.
The consultation says that the Government believes more new nuclear is needed to ensure an affordable and reliable, low carbon electricity system. That means that, alongside a large expansion of renewables, nuclear power is needed to help us switch away from polluting fossil fuels. Keeping nuclear in the mix will cut the cost of decarbonising the electricity supply we all use and depend on.
The respected Committee on Climate Change also recognised the need for a significant proportion of “firm” low carbon electricity – available regardless of wind and sun conditions. That is because we cannot get to Net Zero with renewables alone – we need to expand all low carbon technologies working together. France and Sweden are examples of countries that have been successful in cutting their emissions by combining renewables and nuclear.
Just as today, people buying 100% renewables tariffs will still be dependent on other reliable sources of electricity to give them a daily secure supply when it is not windy or sunny enough.
Electricity bills already include many charges beyond the market price – things like network charges and policies to tackle climate change, including support for wind farms – so paying for low carbon electricity is not something new. The consultation is looking at one way to bring those costs down for consumers. The details of how the funding would work have yet to be decided.
IMAGE: Hinkley Point C, currently under construction in Somerset