The British government, EDF and China General Nuclear Group have signed an agreement to commence development of Britain’s new generation of nuclear power plants, 12 years after then Prime Minister Tony Blair kick-started the process with his party’s energy review.
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant will now be going to construction phase and following the London signing ceremony the Chinese party also turns its attention to building their own reactor in Essex. CGN’s investment in British nuclear represents the largest ever investment by China in the UK.
The finalisation also refers to a suite of agreements relating to Sizewell C (SZC) and Bradwell B (BRB) with the EDF Group (EDF) and the UK government.
The agreements also enable preparatory work to begin on BRB, allowing CGN to put its HPR1000 technology through the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process.
CGN Chairman He Yu commented, “This flagship programme is a triple win for China, Britain, and France and is a culmination of years of cooperation between the three countries. CGN looks forward to providing UK consumers with safe, reliable and sustainable energy and maximising opportunities for UK suppliers and the UK workforce.”
The proposed Bradwell B project will, subject to design approval, consist of two HPR1000 reactors each with an output of 1.15 GW. CGN will have a 66.5 per cent interest in Bradwell with the remainder held by EDF. HPR1000 is based on leading third generation nuclear technology and is China’s nuclear technology of choice for export. CGN’s Fangchenggang Unit 3 currently under construction in Southern China will be the reference plant for Bradwell B.
The UK has a goal of generating 25 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable, sustainable sources. The construction of HPC will provide 7 per cent of the UK’s energy needs, delivering secure and affordable low-carbon electricity for 60 years.
Hinkley alone will provide over 25,000 employment opportunities which will benefit France and Britain’s nuclear power industry supply chain, as well as provide skills training.
The British government has admitted that the Hinkley Point C deal is more expensive than if gas-fired power had been chosen to backbone the country’s energy system over the coming decades, but said it was justified because it would help meet climate change targets.
Meanwhile writing in the Telegraph, He Yu, chairman of CGN, said the companies were “cementing the golden era between China and the UK” and attacked the “baseless and inaccurate” criticism of Chinese involvement in UK nuclear power.
CGN plans to begin the safety approval process for its reactor “immediately” and aims to complete it within five years.
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