UK to invest $809.13 million in new nuclear plant in PM Johnson’s swansong

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Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that Britain will invest $809.13 million (700 million pounds) in EDF’s planned Sizewell C nuclear plant, his last major policy announcement before stepping down from the role next week.

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The investment comes as Britain strives to be more energy independent after a surge in oil and gas prices following the war in Ukraine has left millions of households facing fuel poverty this winter.

Ramping up nuclear energy production would in the longer term reduce the country’s reliance on natural gas, which made up around 45 percent of British electricity production last year.

“We need to ... get on with Sizewell C,” Johnson said, speaking at Sizewell in Suffolk, eastern England. “In the course of the next few weeks, I am absolutely confident that it will get over the line.”

However, it would be years before the plant is operational. The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is also being developed by French energy group EDF, has faced repeated delays and billions of pounds in cost overruns.

The Hinkley plant is currently expected to start in 2027, a decade later than originally promised.

EDF has said Sizewell C would benefit from being “a near replica” of the 25 billion-26 billion pound ($28.90 billion-$30.06 billion), Hinkley plant, and predicted it would cost around 20 percent less than Hinkley.

The UK government also hopes to find private investors for the project and has launched a new funding model which it hopes will make the project more attractive.

Under the regulated-asset-base (RAB) model, companies building new plants would be paid during the construction phase, cutting down their development risk and allowing them to secure cheaper financing for the projects.

Critics of RAB say it will leave taxpayers liable for any cost over-runs and delays during construction.

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