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Hinkley Point C nuclear plant could help households save £1bn a year on energy bills, says EDF

The French energy firm has issued a statement following comments by the business secretary over the cost to consumers of building more nuclear plants in the UK

French energy giant EDF claims its Somerset nuclear power plant would be able to save UK consumers more than £1bn on energy bills this year alone if it was already up and running.

The company, which is constructing Hinkley Point C near Bridgwater, has spoken out following comments made by the business secretary on Friday (May 13) over the cost of plans to build more nuclear power stations in the UK.

Kwasi Kwarteng told householders to prepare for a “small rise” in energy bills as part of the Government’s proposals to fund a new fleet of reactors around the country.

But EDF said while there are upfront costs when building the stations, nuclear power could save consumers “much more” on energy bills over its lifetime.

“Nuclear power is zero carbon and will play a vital role in preventing any future energy crisis,” a spokesperson for EDF said. “If Hinkley Point C were online today, it would have saved consumers more than £1bn on energy bills for 2022 alone.”

The Government’s energy strategy was published in April and has a fleet of new nuclear power plants its heart, with the Prime Minister suggesting a new reactor could be built every year.

It is hoped the Government’s funding model, announced in October, will attract a wider range of private investment into new nuclear power projects in the UK. The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill will use a model known as the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) to fund future nuclear power stations in Britain – a method that financed infrastructure projects such as Thames Tideway Tunnel and Heathrow Terminal 5.

According to the department for business, the RAB model will reduce the UK’s reliance on overseas developers for financing new nuclear projects by increasing the pool of private investors to include British pension funds, insurers and other institutional investors.

But a large-scale project funded under this scheme will add a cost to UK households at a time when rising inflation is putting pressure on consumers.

The Government has said the cost will be “at most a few pounds a year” to typical household energy bills during the early stages of construction and on average less than £1 per month during the full construction phase of the project.

It also claims the financing of the project could lead to savings for consumers of at least £30bn on each project – translating to more than £10 per year for an average domestic dual fuel bill throughout the life of the nuclear power station – which can operate for 60 years.

Hinkley Point C is one of the largest building projects in Europe and, when complete, it is hoped the plant will be able to generate low-carbon electricity for six million homes over 60 years.

Last September marked five years since full construction began, although EDF said in 2021 the start of electricity generation at the plant would be delayed by six months to June 2026 and previous cost estimates of £21.5bn to £22.5bn were revised up to between £22bn and £23bn.

In January, Mr Kwarteng said Hinkley Point C would help protect the UK from “volatile” wholesale gas prices during a visit to the power station. He praised the progress made during construction of the plant as he and exchequer secretary to the Treasury Helen Whately were shown around the site.

Source: Business Live