The first new nuclear power station in the UK for more than 20 years looks like finally going ahead after several false starts, thanks to the government agreeing to "guarantee" part of the debt for the project to the tune of £2bn.
The deal sees the UK taxpayer's money used to guarantee some of the loans needed to pay for the construction of Hinkley Point C, with the money going toward building a firmer investment case for the consortium of Chinese generators and energy giant EDF that are interested in building the plant. It's a drop in the ocean, though, with a total build cost of £14bn for the entire project.
Chancellor George Osborne said of the guarantee deal: "Nuclear power is cost competitive with other low carbon technology and is a crucial part of our energy mix, along with new sources of power such as shale gas. So I am delighted to announce this guarantee for Hinkley Point today and to be in China to discuss their investments in Britain’s nuclear industry. It is another move forward for the golden relationship between Britain and China -- the world’s oldest civil nuclear power and the world’s fastest growing civil nuclear power."
EDF says the loan guarantee is "further progress towards a final investment decision" on whether to fully commit.
The ambition for Hinkley Point C is to have it generating up to seven per cent of all the UK's electricity needs all by itself once it's online, so we can all stop worrying about turning things off when they're not being used. [Gov.uk]