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« UK nuclear power plant gets go-ahead | Main | Nuclear power popular despite Fukushima: OECD boss Luis Echavarri »

UK nuclear power plant set for go-ahead

The government is set to give the go-ahead for the UK's first new nuclear station in a generation.

France's EDF Energy will lead a consortium that includes Chinese investors, to build the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset.

Ministers say the deal will help take the UK towards low-carbon power and lower generating costs in future.

Critics warn guaranteeing the group a price for electricity at twice the current level will raise bills.

The two reactors proposed for Hinkley, which will provide power until around the second half of this century, are a key part of the coalition's drive to shift the UK away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon power.

Ministers and EDF have been in talks for more than a year about about the minimum price the company will be paid for electricity produced at a site which has an estimated construction cost of at least £14bn.

It is understood that the two sides have now agreed the "strike price" for every megawatt of power Hinkley C would generate per hour.

Chancellor George Osborne removed another obstacle last week when he announced that Chinese firms will be allowed to invest in civil nuclear projects in the UK.

'Deep pockets'

The existing plant at Hinkley currently produces about 1% of the UK's total energy, but that would rise to 7% once the expansion is complete in 2023.

However, BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam says this will come at a price, with the government promising to pay the owners of Hinkley Point a fixed fee of possibly between £90-£93 for every megawatt of power generated per hour.

"That's almost twice the current wholesale market price for electricity at around £50," he said. "And the government will be paying that price for 30-40 years irrespective of whether market prices soar or collapse."

To read this interview in full please click here.

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