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New Nuclear Power Plants In Doubt As UK Govt Demands Price Cuts

Andrew Ward, Financial Times

Companies vying to build nuclear power stations in the UK have been told they must offer a price for their electricity sharply lower than that approved for the Hinkley Point plant last year, raising further questions about the viability of Britain’s plans for a new generation of reactors.

Government officials have indicated that future projects will be expected to deliver a discount of at least 15-20 per cent on the price of electricity from the £18bn Hinkley plant in Somerset, a settlement widely criticised for its high cost.

Lower prices compared with Hinkley are seen as crucial to maintaining political support for new nuclear plants, which are at the heart of UK plans to maintain energy security while lowering carbon emissions.

However, the prospect of less lucrative contracts will add to the financing difficulties facing reactor developers and intensify their demands for government help to meet multibillion-pound construction costs.

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