LONDON (AP) — Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday pledged 700 million pounds ($810 million) of government funding for a planned new nuclear power plant as part of a drive to improve the U.K.’s energy security.
Johnson said the spike in global gas prices driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed why more nuclear generation capacity was needed in the U.K.
The plant, called Sizewell C, is located on eastern England’s Suffolk coast. French energy company EDF, which will partly fund the project, has said it can generate low-carbon electricity for at least 60 years when the project is complete.
The plant will reportedly cost about 20 billion pounds ($23 billion). Britain’s government gave the greenlight for the plant in July, and talks about how to fund it are ongoing.
“Yes, nuclear always looks relatively expensive to build and to run,” Johnson said in his final major policy speech as prime minister. “But look at what’s happening today, look at the results of Putin’s war. It is certainly cheap by comparison with hydrocarbons today.”
Johnson added: “I say to you, with the prophetic candor and clarity of one who is about to hand over the torch of office, I say go nuclear and go large and go with Sizewell C.”
Johnson will formally leave office on Tuesday, handing power to either Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, the two finalists in the Conservative Party’s leadership race.
Many in Britain are looking to Johnson’s successor to announce urgent measures to help ease the financial pain for millions of people who will struggle to heat their homes this winter as household energy prices go up by 80% from October.
The U.K. wants to reduce its dependence on imported oil and gas and generate cheaper, cleaner power domestically.
The government has said it wants 95% of British electricity to come from low-carbon sources by 2030.