Issues in the Financing of Nuclear New Build
14 - 15 January, 2021, 14:00 – 17:30 CET
Under the oversight of its Nuclear Development Committee (NDC), the NEA is preparing a report on financing frameworks for Nuclear New Build (NNB) in OECD countries. The key objectives of this report will review the challenges facing new nuclear financing in OECD countries, analyze good practices in terms of the allocation and management of construction and market-related risks, and explore how proposed financing frameworks and policy interventions can best support nuclear new build in today’s electricity markets.
In parallel, the Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment, the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) share a common interest in issues related to innovative nuclear financing and have decided to cooperate through a series of joint events.
This initiative began with a kick-off technical workshop on 14-15 January 2021 to assess the state of nuclear financing and discuss a number of key issues at a conceptual level. With the following session themes, the technical workshop brought together key experts from government, industry and academia to discuss fundamental issues pertaining to nuclear new build financing.
Thursday 14 January (14:00 to 17:30)
Session 1 - Delivering investments in low carbon technologies in line with long-term decarbonisation objectives
This session addressed the challenges facing investments in capital-intensive low carbon technologies, and in particular new nuclear. This includes the ability for today’s electricity markets to deliver the long-term price signal required to drive these investments (including through carbon pricing), implications from changes in the global macroeconomic context with historically low treasury bonds yields, as well as insights from the economic literature on private and social discount rates to guide policy interventions toward large infrastructure projects.
Session 2 - Specificities of nuclear new build financing and core principles for risk allocation
This session addressed the different risk dimensions of nuclear new build projects, with a focus on different risks during the construction period, and how these risks are related to the technological and industrial maturity of a given nuclear reactor type. A key underlying issue relates to how these risks can be effectively allocated to the different stakeholders, the importance of aligning interests across those different parties, and the expected impacts on the cost of capital. In addition, financial frameworks are also driven by two important considerations that will be discussed: First, how financial institutions address those risks, including as part of ongoing developments on so-called “green” taxonomies and, more generally, ESG criteria. Second, trends in the economic conditions and industrial organization of the electricity sector mean that utilities are increasingly unable to carry new nuclear projects on their balance sheet, which influences the choice of financial frameworks.
Friday 15 January (14:00 to 17:30)
Session 3 - Lessons learned from financing approaches for recent nuclear new build and other large infrastructure projects
This session explored lessons learned from recent nuclear new build projects as well as other large infrastructure (so-called megaprojects) relating to the financing frameworks that were employed in each case. Of particular interest, will be the discussion of their outcomes for the cost of capital, the allocation of risks, the experience of different stakeholders and the overall success of the projects. Another key issue will be the strategic alignment of incentives, i.e., the interaction of different forms of financing with the corporate and legal structure as well as the efficiency of project management during construction.
Session 4 - The way forward – possible financing frameworks for nuclear new build in OECD countries
This session was devoted to learning from recent experiences and to develop perspectives for possible future financing frameworks for nuclear new build in OECD countries. It drew on ongoing discussions in key countries (e.g. Czech Republic, France, Poland, UK, US) as well as on the state of the art of the academic discussion. In particular, it aimed to highlight key decision criteria behind different financing frameworks that are currently under discussion, as well as key challenges that future projects will need to address.
Session 5 - General concluding roundtable
This concluding session aimed to provide key recommendations for the future NEA report on nuclear new build financing and more generally discuss the next steps of the NEA-IFNEC nuclear new build financing initiative.