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UK government to unveil nuclear RAB assessment by summer

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said ‘it is clear that we need to consider a new approach to financing nuclear’, hoping to attract institutional capital.

The UK government plans to reveal its assessment of the regulated asset base model as a way forward for nuclear power projects by the summer “at the latest”.

The timeline was set out on Thursday by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark following the suspension of work on the Wylfa site by Japanese group Hitachi. Wylfa was set to deliver 2.9GW of power and estimated to cost about £13 billion ($16.8 billion; €14.7 billion). It was set to form part of a new generation of nuclear plants in the UK, with all but one of the current 15 operating reactors due to be retired by 2030.

“It is clear that we need to consider a new approach to financing future projects, including those at Sizewell and Bradwell,” Clark told Parliament. “We are therefore reviewing the viability of a regulated asset base model and assessing whether it can offer value for money for consumers and taxpayers. I can confirm to the House that we intend to publish our assessment of this method by the summer at the latest.”

Clark confirmed in June that the government was looking at the RAB model – used to successfully procure the Thames Tideway – for nuclear projects “beyond Wylfa” as a way of attracting private finance to nuclear power. French utility EDF subsequently confirmed to Infrastructure Investor it had been in talks with “about a dozen actively interested investors”, largely consisting of infrastructure and pension funds.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was unable to confirm whether this timeline had been accelerated as a result of Hitachi’s decision. The government had previously said the RAB model was its “objective in the longer term”.

In August, BEIS appointed Mark Corben, then the chief financial officer of Thames Tideway, as a senior financial advisor responsible for helping the government adapt the RAB model for nuclear sites.