UK ministers will this week renew their support for nuclear power with measures to strengthen the industry’s supply chain and develop a new generation of small-scale reactors. The future of nuclear energy in the UK has been called into question this year as the industry struggles to compete with the falling cost of renewable energy. However, the government is expected to argue that nuclear power remains crucial to UK energy security and reducing carbon emissions. It will signal its continued support with a package of measures to bolster nuclear research and engineering, according to people briefed on the plans. These will include long-awaited details of how the government plans to promote development of “mini nuclear plants” known as small modular reactors. The measures are expected to coincide with a breakthrough in plans for a new large-scale nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria. Kepco, the South Korean utility, is on the cusp of a provisional deal to invest in the Toshiba-owned NuGen consortium behind the Cumbrian project, according to people involved in the process. Toshiba is keen to sell NuGen as part of efforts to survive the financial crisis engulfing the Japanese conglomerate. Talks have also been held with CGN of China but Kepco is expected to named preferred bidder, possibly this week. The Treasury remains cautious about committing public equity to nuclear reactor construction — notorious for high costs and budget overruns — but ministers are open to providing some kind of financial backing, such as loans, bonds or guarantees.
FT 3rd Dec 2017 read more »