U.K. considers policies to support nuclear power

New legislation is being drafted by the British government that aims to encourage the development of nuclear power generation in the U.K., according to Bloomberg.

Several major utilities and energy companies have recently backed out of initial proposals to construct nuclear power plants out of concern that the long returns timeline would render the projects poor investments.

The new legislation would seek to ease utilities' efforts to secure financing by providing long-term contracts. These contracts would make use of feed-in tariffs similar to those being used in many countries to encourage the development of renewable energy, but would be designed primarily to guarantee a certain level of returns, paying more or less based on the market price for electricity.

"Electricity market reform is about keeping the lights on," John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, told Bloomberg. "Business investment in low carbon will only happen when the detailed market framework is in place. Today’s announcements are an important stepping stone."

However, one industry expert, analyst Peter Atherton of Citi, explained to Reuters that nuclear power will only be possible if taxpayers accept the costs of supporting the industry, calling nuclear energy "not commercially viable" in the U.K.

Prospects for the British nuclear industry can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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