Caixin
Sep 30, 2016 02:11 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China-Funded Nuclear Project in U.K. Gets Final Go-Ahead

(Beijing) — The formal contract for a French-Chinese consortium to build Britain's first nuclear plant in more than two decades was signed in London on Thursday after months of delay due to controversy over the foreign funding.

The planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in southwestern England involving an 18-billion-pound ($23.4 billion) investment will be built by French energy group Electricite de France SA (EDF) and partly financed by Chinese nuclear power provider China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

The project was agreed to by then-British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November during Xi's state visit to Britain. With an investment of 6 billion pounds, CGN will hold a 33.5 percent stake in the project.

The contract to finalize the deal was originally scheduled for July 29, but progress was delayed by Britain's new cabinet, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, who took office in July. She cited security concerns over foreign funds being involved in the key nuclear infrastructure and ordered a review of the deal.

The British government approved the project on Sept. 15 on condition that the government have the right to stop EDF from selling stakes in Hinkley.

Under the final agreement, construction of the project will begin in 2019 and operations will start in 2025. The plant is expected to provide 7 percent of Britain's power demand.

China's state-owned CGN is the nation's biggest nuclear power operator and construction company. It operates 18 nuclear reactors in China with another 10 under construction. The company has proposed to take part in the construction of another two nuclear plants in England, including Bradwell in Essex county, and Sizewell in Suffolk county.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com); editor Ken Howe (kennethhowe@caixin.com)

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