New Nuclear Watch Europe chairman says “we need NuGen to proceed”

Government money could help “unlock progress” with the troubled Moorside nuclear power station, according to Tim Yeo.

Speaking to Utility Week, the chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe and former chairman of the energy and climate change select committee said there was a question of whether the British government “is willing to put any of its own money” into Moorside, either by way of a loan or an equity stake in the power station.

Yeo said he believed this would “undoubtedly unlock progress” with the project.

Last week it was revealed Chinese General Nuclear (CGN) are looking to bid for an equity stake in the NuGen site in Cumbria.

Yeo said it was “useful” to have CGN in the background as there have also been discussions between NuGen and the South Korean firm Kepco about investing in Moorside.

“I think there’s still a difficulty over the [strike] price,” he told Utility Week. “Obviously, from the government’s point of view any future strike price will have to be significantly below Hinkley. I’m sure both Kepco and CGN are capable of delivering a price below the Hinkley strike price, but there’s a haggle to take place there.”

He added the need for the nuclear element in the UK’s energy mix has been reinforced by the “growing likelihood that electric vehicles will come on stream in volume sooner than expected”.

“I think we will see a fall in the cost of electric vehicle worldwide, which will accelerate the switch,” he said. “I think by the 2030s, we will see the very widespread deployment of electric vehicles and that will alter the pattern of electricity consumption significantly.

“It will overturn all previous assumptions about low demand during night time hours,” added Yeo. “The vast majority of electric vehicles will be charged up during the night. Therefore the need for reliable, baseload power on a cold, windless winter night is significant.

“There’s a continuing role for nuclear as a baseload supplier, therefore we do need capacity coming on team. Therefore we need NuGen to proceed.”

What to read next