100% Financing for Nuclear Energy plants

100% Financing for Nuclear Energy plants

• Nuclear power plants are large infrastructure investments with century-long footprints.
• A nuclear power plant project is characterized by high upfront capital costs and long construction periods, low and stable operational costs, and lengthy payback periods.
• This investment profile, combined with the risks associated with construction, mean that the cost of financing is a key determinant of the cost of electricity generated.
• Typically, it is the responsibility of owners or operators of nuclear power plants to secure financing for new nuclear power plants. For investors, the confidence provided by clear, long-term governmental commitment to a nuclear power programs remains critical.
• Most nuclear power plants in operation were financed in regulated energy markets, where returns on investment were generally secure. Widespread deregulation of markets has altered the risk profile related to investing in new capacity because electricity prices are less predictable.
• A significant number of models have been used in recent years to facilitate investment. Most combine a long-term power purchase contract, to reduce revenue risk, and a means of capping investor exposure, for example through loan guarantees.

The importance of competitive finance:

Nuclear power provides a source of reliable, low-carbon electricity, and it is widely recognized that its role will need to grow to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to mitigate climate change. One of the principal barriers to the necessary expansion is the challenge associated with securing competitive financing for new nuclear plants.

A nuclear power plant as an investment is fundamentally no different to that of any large infrastructure project: it is characterized by high upfront capital costs and a long construction period, followed by a lengthy payback period – and it will be financed, typically, by a mix of debt and equity. However, there are several features specific to nuclear projects that present unique considerations for investors:

• Technical complexity – presenting (relatively) high risks during the construction phase of delays and cost
• Political and regulatory risks – long, expensive, and changeable permitting and licensing regimes.
• Liabilities – related to waste management and decommissioning.
• High fixed to variable cost ratios – a challenge in markets with uncertain electricity pricing and demand.

This cost profile is a feature of all low-carbon electricity generation options, in contrast to fossil fuel generated electricity, where the fuel itself is the principal cost.

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