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UK govt buys option to own 20% of Sizewell C nuclear power plant

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    The UK government bought an option to take a 20% stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant, in a move that could reduce China's involvement in the controversial project. The £100m option to invest in Sizewell C’s holding company was taken up in January, with ministers saying it would convert that into equity if the project reaches a final investment decision. The venture is jointly owned by Électricité de France S.A. (EDF) and China General Nuclear Power. The government is said to be eager to cut CGN out of the project on concerns over China’s involvement in critical UK infrastructure, the Guardian reported. Ministers said in a statement progress had been made towards securing finance for the proposed £20bn nuclear power station in Suffolk. The deadline for a decision on Sizewell C’s development consent order has been set to July 8. The UK government had been exploring ways to remove China from the project and had said it would consider taking an equity stake. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for the creation of eight reactors by the end of this decade, hoping to triple the UK's atomic power capacity by 2050. French giant EDF is reportedly negotiating with the government about how to fund construction via household energy regulated levies and a broader, multibillion-pound taxpayer investment. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business and energy secretary, said the £20bn twin reactor will receive funding through the Regulated Assets Base (RAB) model. Developers are allowed to charge a small amount on electricity bills to cover building costs, with the aim of eventually lowering bills once the power station is up and running. In schemes of this nature, infrastructure is the greatest financial burden, but the RAB model eliminates the need to use loans that would build up interest once the station starts operating and would have to be passed on to consumers. "Overall consumers are expected to save more than £30bn over the project’s lifetime on each new large-scale nuclear power station compared with existing funding mechanisms," said the government.

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