China will invest £6 billion (US$9 billion) in Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation, in return for help to bring its own nuclear technology to the West.
Chinese nuclear company CGN will finance 33.5 percent of the £18 billion EDF Hinkley Point nuclear project, project, one of the world’s costliest nuclear power stations, which Britain said it needs to replace aging reactors and polluting coal plants to ensure the lights stay on, according to Reuters.
The deal, announced during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Britain, is a boost for French nuclear plant operator EDF and reactor maker Areva which are under pressure to prove their reactors can be built on time and on budget after other projects in Europe were billions of euros over budget and years behind schedule.
“This deal confirms the leadership of EDF and the way we are able to attract investors as demanding as the Chinese,” Vincent de Rivaz, head of EDF’s British unit EDF Energy told reporters.
The project at Hinkley Point will be the first new nuclear plant built in the European Union since 2011 when Japan’s Fukushima reactor meltdown sent shockwaves through the world.
As part of the agreement, EDF will help CGN gain a licence to build its own nuclear reactor, Hualong, in Britain, whose nuclear regulatory regime is seen as one of the most stringent in the world.
CGN has also agreed to take a 20 percent stake in EDF’s Sizewell nuclear project in eastern England.
EDF said final sanctioning of this project was three to four years away.
For China, keen to establish itself as an exporter of nuclear expertise, successfully building a plant in Britain will open the door to other markets.
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