A serious stumbling block now threatens the prospect of China’s cash for UK nuclear plants materialising − and also the likelihood of a successful outcome to COP26, the global climate conference which the British government is due to host later this year. In order to finance the construction of nuclear stations that are supposed to generate up to 20% of the UK’s electricity, the British government needs Chinese money. Without it, the already prohibitively expensive projects may become completely unaffordable. Neither the deeply indebted French government-owned company EDF, which is building two stations, each with twin reactors, nor the UK government is prepared to underwrite the entire cost of the projects. This is because of the huge sums required − around £45 billion (US$62bn). However, the UK government faces severe political pressure to end Chinese involvement, because of the perceived threat of ceding control over vital services such as the electricity supply. Meanwhile the renewable energy industry, particularly offshore wind, is powering ahead with a massive construction programme. Its projects will all produce electricity far more cheaply than any of the UK’s proposed new nuclear stations. Last ditch attempts by the nuclear industry to put a green gloss on its proposals by persuading ministers that its spare electricity capacity can be used to make green hydrogen seem unlikely to succeed. Perhaps in time it will become obvious to Johnson that if banning Chinese involvement in British nuclear plants means they end up not being built that will be a bonus, because cheaper renewable energy will soon be available to fill any perceived gap in supply.
Climate News Network 16th Aug 2021 read more »
Could CGN be pushed out of the UK’s nuclear industry? The Conservative backwoodsman MPs smell blood on China. They have already reversed Government policy and banned Huawei from involvement in rolling out the fifth generation (5G) of wireless communications networks. They now intend to stop another Chinese firm, CGN, from showcasing its HPR1000 technology when building a replacement nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex. The MPs will achieve this by amending the forthcoming National Security and Investment Bill. Trouble is, CGN already has contracts signed to part-fund nuclear power stations together with Electricité de France, at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. In both cases, the Chinese have absolutely key engineering roles, with know-how not easily replaced. The big question is: if CGN were kicked out of Bradwell, whether they would also walk away from the other two projects. Of course in doing so, they would then be in breach of many existing contractual obligations. But, in such circumstances, good luck with suing the Chinese government.
Electrical Review 16th Aug 2021 read more »