The financing behind Hinkley Point C has been called into question today by an influential think tank.
According to Westminster-based think tank CentreForum, the private financing behind the project will cost UK taxpayers £12.4bn more over 35 years than government-backed procurement.
The think tank said the lack of government investment will result in an additional bill of at least £15 a year per UK household “for a generation, while the taxpayer underwrites double-digit returns to French and Chinese nationalised industry”.
The report made eight recommendations, which included setting a new nuclear strike price by auction and building long-term infrastructure to support nuclear growth, such as laboratories and research centres.
The report also proposes the creation of a public sector operator that could purchase nuclear plants and operate them at “arms length” similarly to Network Rail, but unlike Network Rail this entity would be profit-earning over the long term and would be able to repay its capital and operating costs.
CentreForum research associate and report author Toby Fenwick stressed that new nuclear was essential for low-carbon energy.
However, he added: “Decisions taken under the last government will result in expensive electricity that will cost British consumers more than £12bn more than is necessary over the next 35 years.
“Operating as a Network Rail-style arms-length organisation, a public operator is best placed to provide the competition required to get the best price for the low-carbon nuclear power we need.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “Nuclear is an important part of the £110bn of investment in our electricity sector that is required over the next decade and will boost the economy, create thousands of jobs and help keep the lights on.
“We are seeing significant progress towards a nuclear renaissance. Three consortia, NNBGenCo (EDF), Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGen, are taking forward projects to build new nuclear power plants and investor confidence continues to grow.”