Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has sought to clarify comments he made earlier this morning when he revealed that increasing nuclear power would raise the costs of household energy bills.
He told the BBC that the commissioning of the construction of new nuclear power stations could have a “small effect” on bills.
Speaking to social media, Kwarteng explained that a large nuclear power station will add less than £1 a month to energy bills during the construction phase.
He tweeted: ‘This will ultimately reduce the cost of financing projects, saving consumers £30billion on each new plant over its lifetime.
The government is committed to increasing nuclear power generation, with the energy source being a key part of the UK’s security of supply strategy.
Kwarteng’s comments follow the Government’s launch today of the £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, which aims to reduce the cost of nuclear power by attracting new players to the market.
The new fund builds on last October’s Nuclear Funding Bill – which places nuclear projects under the basic regulatory asset model, meaning public funds will be used to start the initial phases of construction of nuclear projects before the contribution of private investments.
“Nuclear is at the heart of our long-term plan to boost the UK’s energy security with cheaper, cleaner and locally generated electricity, while creating thousands of highly skilled jobs across our country,” Kwarteng said.
The government is betting big on nuclear power
Downing Street is aiming for a fourfold increase in nuclear power generation from 6.9 gigawatts (GW) to 24 GW by 2050, as the country aims for both net carbon emissions and energy independence vis-à-vis -to foreign suppliers.
The transformation of the country’s nuclear sector will be overseen by its new delivery arm, Great British Nuclear.
The intention is to encourage national support for power plants and to ensure that projects start at the most expensive stage.
The costs would be added to energy bills, but this would be mitigated by significantly lower electricity generation costs.
The enabling fund will be used to approve eight more reactors this decade, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘big gamble’ on nuclear power.
Current nuclear plans include the completion of Hinkley Point C – at the eye-watering cost of £23billion – in the middle of this decade.
It also includes the construction of Sizewell C and the support of small modular reactors supported by Rolls Royce.
At present, nuclear power generates 16% of UK electricity demand, but output from existing plants is set to be halved by the end of the decade, with six reactors set to close by the end of the decade. 2035.
If the ramp-up promised by the government is successful, nuclear energy will cover 25% of the UK’s energy needs.