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Taxpayers facing £20bn bill for nuclear power station in Wales | UK | News

Plans for a nuclear power station risk saddling taxpayers with £20billion worth of debt, insiders have suggested. Several companies are reportedly in the running to build a plant at Wylfa in Angelsey, Wales.

They include Kepco, South Korea‘s state nuclear company, with representatives from the firm set to meet Minister for Energy Security Andrew Bowie this week, according to the Telegraph.

The same publication cites a senior industry source as warning about concerns over ministers’ willingness to give such a large scheme the thumbs up before a general election.

Issues include the cost of the scheme, with the Government being the ultimate guarantor if the project fails, risking the state having to add the cost to Britain’s already ballooning national debt.

The industry source told the Telegraph that the main barrier right now is that building gigawatt-scale units means having to put them on the Government’s balance sheet.

They added: « Whoever is in power after the next election is going to have to grapple with that balance sheet – and are they really going to do this? It is something that is being looked at now. »

The South Koreans are reportedly expected to put forward a similar proposal to the one Kepco developed in the United Arab Emirates. Kepco took an 18 percent stake in that 5.6 gigawatts scheme.

Ministers are said to want to pursue a regulatory asset base model, whereby investors gradually recover the cost of a scheme plus returns through small levies added to household bills.

A second industry insider told the Telegraph UK accounting rules should not stop Britain from making decisions about the UK’s critical infrastructure for Net Zero and energy security.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) said the value of the scheme had been added to the state’s books, given its current role as a controlling shareholder.

The Government is trying to attract private investment, aiming to cut its stake over time from 50 percent.

A DESNZ spokesman said the Government has ended the stop-start approach to nuclear with the biggest expansion in 70 years, with projects such as Sizewell C promising cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy in the long term.

He added: « The accounting standards for Sizewell C do not affect what consumers will pay.

« As recognised by the National Audit Office, our funding model can deliver greater value for money by lowering the cost of financing construction, one of the biggest drivers of new nuclear project costs.

« It includes multiple mechanisms to protect consumers from taking on unacceptable levels of risk and we anticipate charges to be around just £1 a month on an average household bill. »

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