The UK has received the support of European Union regulators for its proposed £16bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, following the end of a nine-month EU-state aided probe.
The backing comes as a huge boost for the nuclear industry, which has been facing high costs and safety concerns in western Europe following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, reports The Wall Street Journal.
French nuclear firm Électricité de France, which plans to construct new two reactors at Hinkley Point in south-west England, has welcomed the EU’s decision and termed it as "another positive step forward" for the project.
The approval from the EU also serves as a huge boost for the UK, which intends to shift away from coal-fired plants to nuclear plants for power generation in order to avoid future power shortages as old facilities are retired.
The EU approval would mean that the UK Government can provide an electricity price guarantee of £92.50 per megawatt hour to EDF and its partners for 35 years once the first reactor goes on line.
This price is almost two times the existing wholesale power price.
Last year, the UK Government and EDF arrived at an agreement on the electricity price.
Even though electricity consumers would ultimately pay this guaranteed electricity price, the UK still had to get EU sanction under "state aid" rules as this pricing plan favours one technology over others, which may ultimately impact competition.
The European Commission said that the revised plan is now in line with the EU rules on state support; however, the Commission did not disclose any details of the deal.
The official approval from the European Commission for the funding is likely to be received by the end of October.
Meanwhile, before commencing the project, EDF needs to make the final investment decision on the £16bn project; initially, the firm said that it intends to make its decision in December 2012, reports The Wall State Journal.
Hinkley Point A nuclear power plant was commissioned in 1965 and decommissioned in 2000, while Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant was commissioned in 1976.
Image: The Hinkley Point nuclear power station. Photo: courtesy of Richard Baker.