Will the new nuclear plant mean cheaper bills? Energy Secretary Ed Davey is challenged at a news conference
The government has given the go-ahead for the UK’s first new nuclear station in a generation.
France’s EDF Energy will lead a consortium, which 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.
“For the first time, a nuclear station in this country will not have been built with money from the British taxpayer,” said Secretary of State for Energy Edward Davey.
The two reactors planned for Hinkley, which will provide power for about 60 years, 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 the minimum price the company will be paid for electricity produced at the site, which the government estimates will cost £16bn to build.
However, Dr Paul Dorfman, from the Energy Institute at University College London, said “what it equates to actually is a subsidy and the coalition said they would never subsidise nuclear”.
He added: “It is essentially a subsidy of between what we calculate to be £800m to £1bn a year that the UK taxpayer and energy consumer will be putting into the deep pockets of Chinese and French corporations, which are essentially their governments.”
Chinese companies China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation will be minority shareholders in the project.
The move follows Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement last week that Chinese firms would be allowed to invest in civil nuclear projects in the UK.
Prime Minister David Cameron said that the new Hinkley Point plant was “an excellent deal for Britain and British consumers”.
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