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A general view of the Torness nuclear power station on the North Sea in the Scottish Borders region.
A general view of the Torness nuclear power station on the North Sea in the Scottish Borders region.
(DAVID MOIR/REUTERS)

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Will governments step into the nuclear breach?

Is there nobody willing to pay up to keep the lights on? The decision by Centrica on Monday not to invest in new U.K. nuclear plants suggests that developing the next generation of nuclear power is too daunting a task for the private sector.

Since the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, nuclear power has been gripped by regulatory hesitancy, lengthening construction schedules and rising costs. Centrica has clearly had it with the uncertainty; the U.K. group thinks a £500-million ($787-million) share buyback is a better use of shareholders’ money. Maybe. If private sector utilities will not invest in nuclear power, however, who will?