EDF believes that new nuclear power plant capacity could be on-line in the UK by 2017 provided that the country’s government puts the right policy environment in place.

In a detailed submission to the government’s consultation on the future of nuclear power in the UK, the French power giant argues that allowing private developers to build new nuclear plants will enable the UK to meet the three key challenges of security of supply, climate change and affordability of energy supplies. It also says that it is looking at the possibility of building four nuclear power plants in the UK before 2025.

But EDF Energy, which supplies energy to around 5.1 million customers in the UK, says that the government must carry out a number of proposed facilitative actions to make new nuclear a viable investment option for developers. EDF has also proposed enhancing these actions with a number of additional policy initiatives.

The consultation on “The Future of Nuclear Power: the role of nuclear power in a low carbon UK economy” seeks views on the role of the private sector in new nuclear build and closes this week.

EDF argues that most of the UK’s nuclear and coal capacity is closing over the next 15 years, leaving a potential energy gap of 15-33 GW by 2025. Finding alternatives to gas and coal to fill this gap is important to both diversity and security of supply, it says.

EDF believes that the commissioning of new nuclear plants in the UK could be achieved by 2017, rather than 2020 as previously estimated by the government. However, improving the policy environment should be co-ordinated across the government and conducted in an open and transparent way.

The UK government has proposed policy initiatives such as improvements to the planning process, conducting a justification process for new nuclear technology and completing transparent design assessments. In addition, EDF believes these should be strengthened with several other actions, including a means to underpin long term confidence in the carbon price, the adaptation of grid rules to accommodate modern plant capacities and the use of a strategic siting process to give investors a choice.