News of the deal comes as news agencies today reported that the strike price talks between the UK government and EDF over a new reactor at Hinkley Point have been concluded, with a final agreed price of £92.50/MWh.
Chancellor George Osborne (right) revealed details of the Chinese deal while on a trade visit to Taishan nuclear power plant.
Osborne and his Chinese counterpart Ma Kai witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on civil nuclear collaboration which sets out a framework for co-operation on investment, technology, construction and expertise.
The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change said that the pact would “make sure that British companies such as Rolls Royce, International Nuclear Services and engineering companies like Mott MacDonald can be part of China’s multi-billion pound new nuclear programme”.
Osborne said the deal was “another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China – the world’s oldest… and fastest growing civil nuclear power”.
“It is an important potential part of the government’s plan for developing the next generation of nuclear power in Britain. It means the potential of more investment and jobs in Britain, and lower long-term energy costs for consumers.”
Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton – who signed the MoU on behalf of the UK – said: “This is another significant step forward in demonstrating our commitment to delivering our new nuclear programme.”
The announcement comes as the British government and EDF are in the eleventh hour of talks to agree a strike price for Hinkley Point. Both the Wall Street Journal and news agency AFP have today reported that the discussions have been concluded, but neither EDF nor DECC have confirmed this.
An official announcement from DECC on EDF finally signing the long-awaited letter of intent on Hinkley Point (pictured right) is expected next week, perhaps as early as Monday.
UK energy secretary Ed Davey said of the Chinese deal: “This is an exciting development, strengthening our relationship with China in a way that will benefit both countries. Investment from Chinese companies in the UK electricity market is welcome, providing they can meet our stringent regulatory and safety requirements.”
Chairman of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, Lord Hutton, said the China pact was “further evidence that the UK nuclear market remains an attractive place for overseas investment.
“Closer co-operation with world’s fastest growing nuclear nation presents substantial opportunities for UK companies with expertise, skills and long experience in nuclear technology.”
He added that Hinkley Point “is a major national infrastructure project that will create tens of thousands of jobs in UK, give a substantial boost to UK construction and manufacturing industries, make major contribution to UK energy security and assist in meeting national carbon reduction targets”.