The construction of nuclear plants is the “essential objective” of energy market measures to be announced today by the British government, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne said in an interview.
“Electricite de France SA is keen to proceed if we get the right structure in place,” Huhne said in “On the Move With Francine Lacqua” on Bloomberg Television. “The framework will save money for consumers versus the patchwork quilt we have at the moment.”
The U.K. is poised for the biggest changes to energy policy in two decades as the government seeks to ensure aging power plants are replaced and climate targets met. Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government is likely to reassert state control over the market-based system introduced by Margaret Thatcher when proposals are made to parliament later today.
The cost of replacing existing plants and building renewable projects will be around 200 billion pounds ($316 billion), according to an Ernst & Young LLP report. The government says existing arrangements don’t provide the certainty needed for utilities to finance new plants. Building a new nuclear reactor in the U.K. may cost companies as much as 6 billion pounds, according to Energy Minister Charles Hendry.
Changing market arrangements will provide “greater certainty of delivering on time,” Huhne said, resulting in electricity bills that are 4 percent lower than they would have been otherwise.
The U.K. has pledged to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. Achieving this will require as much as 40,000 megawatts of low-carbon energy projects, according to a Dec. 7 report from the Committee on Climate Change.