No business need at all now for a Chinese nuclear plant in the UK. Halting Huawei hurts 5G rollout and Sino-British ties, but stopping a Chinese nuclear power plant in Essex has virtually no fallout. Get ready for the “new Huawei” is the word from Westminster, meaning another flare-up in UK-China business and political relations, this time over Chinese involvement in the UK’s nuclear power programme. Ditching state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) would indeed be a political development on a political par with a Huawei exclusion. The 2016 agreement, which imagined CGN’s “progressive entry” into the UK’s “resurgent” nuclear ambitions, was given maximum hype at the time by both Beijing and David Cameron’s government. But here’s the good news: unlike with Huawei, where a ban would seriously disrupt 5G rollout in the UK, there are few direct downsides to excluding CGN. The UK does not need Chinese nuclear technology. The Bradwell proposal is years away from being approved, and already looks surplus to need for the reasons the National Infrastructure Commission offered in its most recent long-term assessment: “Given the balance of cost and risk, a renewables-based system looks a safer bet at present than constructing multiple new nuclear power plants.” The NIC thought only one new big nuclear plant needed to be commissioned before 2025 – and that, presumably, will be Sizewell. Cancelling Bradwell would involve no real sacrifice on the part of the UK. In fact, the Cameron/Osborne nuclear vision has aged horribly in four years. The offshore wind revolution has accelerated and the industry’s costs now beat nuclear’s every time. If replacement nuclear capacity is still deemed essential for baseload purposes, the aim should be to build as few mega-plants as possible. Advances in battery storage technology should further tilt the economics in favour of renewables. While we wait, small modular reactors look a nimbler nuclear alternative. Rolls-Royce is in the development vanguard on that front, and carries no geopolitical headaches. In short, for purely business reasons, one would rip up that 2016 agreement in an instant.
Guardian 7th July 2020 read more »
Chinese involvement in nuclear power is a ‘ticking time bomb,’ expert warns. Backbench Conservative MPs are calling on the Government to limit Chinese investment into the UK’s national infrastructure. Chinese involvement in the UK’s nuclear power industry is a “ticking time bomb” an expert has warned, as MPs urged the Government to scale back plans to involve companies from the communist state in new power stations.
Telegraph 7th July 2020 read more »
Alok Sharma has suggested that Chinese investment in Britain’s nuclear energy sector could be reviewed amid growing calls from senior Tories for a major reset in relations with Beijing. With Boris Johnson facing calls to scale back China’s role in critical national infrastructure and industries, the Business Secretary said the Government would be “looking at all of this in the round.” While Mr Sharma said he did not want to single out individual countries, he added that “all investments that are made in the UK” would be judged against criteria set out in existing legislation and a national security bill currently before Parliament. It comes as a group of Conservative MPs campaigning against Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s new 5G network signalled they would now push for greater scrutiny of Chinese investments in other sectors. Their attention is currently focussed on the nuclear sector in which the China General Nuclear Group, a state-owned energy company, is investing heavily in the Hinkley Point C plant under construction in Somerset. Other Chinese firms have also acquired stakes in part of the National Grid and Thames Water, with China set to invest £105bn in British infrastructure by 2025.
Telegraph 7th July 2020 read more »
Britain’s fraying relationship with China has the potential to undo a decade of mixed efforts to keep nuclear power flowing as an aging generation of plants drop out of service. Once the heart of the U.K.’s energy plans, nuclear has been sidelined by spiraling costs and cheaper renewables. It also finds itself at the center of a diplomatic row spanning trade and human rights that threatens to undermine how the sector is financed. Relations between China and the U.K. have been strained as the row over Huawei Technologies Co. intensified. When sweeping new national security laws were introduced in Hong Kong Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered its citizens the right to live and work in Britain. China warned the U.K. Monday it’ll face “consequences” if it chooses to be a “hostile partner” after it emerged the government is planning to phase out the company’s equipment in the U.K.’s 5G telecommunications networks. For nuclear, the sticking point has become the once-feted relationship with China General Nuclear Power Corp. that’s supposed to deliver the next generation of large nuclear plants. That link has come into sharp focus as the U.K. scrambles to find a funding model for projects that aren’t getting any cheaper. Without CGN, its money and its technology, the U.K. will be left with a huge funding gap that other investors don’t seem willing to fill. It’ll also leave the country’s nuclear plans in disarray. Losing nuclear power probably wouldn’t pose a threat to the U.K.’s ability to generate enough power. The gap could be filled by gas, batteries or small modular reactors that can provide back-up to renewable energy and keep the lights on. The sector is also important to the country as a way of building a large, skilled workforce and creating a supply chain using British companies. In 2017, ministers envisioned building 18 gigawatts of new projects but one by one each project folded, unable to negotiate the financing, leaving just EDF and CGN. The government’s offer in 2018 to Hitachi to take a third of the equity at the Wylfa nuclear project wasn’t enough to keep the company interested. EDF is struggling and can’t afford to finance Sizewell on its own. The utility has cut costs and jobs, and pared investments setting out a plan to divest at least 10 billion euros of assets from 2015 to 2020 to help fund its share of Hinkley Point. “If the Chinese pull out, then Sizewell will still go ahead but EDF will be unable to take on another major project,” Elchin Mammadov, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said “So, Bradwell will be dead or put on hold for another decade.”
Energy Voice 8th July 2020 read more »
China and Britain are increasingly at loggerheads. Beijing is unhappy with Britain’s decision to offer up to 3 million Hong Kong citizens the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks increasingly likely to ban equipment made by China’s Huawei Technologies from British 5G mobile networks. The two countries’ collaboration on nuclear power stations could be the next flashpoint.
Reuters 7th July 2020 read more »
Britain’s fraying relationship with China has the potential to undo a decade of mixed efforts to keep nuclear power flowing as an aging generation of plants drop out of service. Once the heart of the U.K.’s energy plans, nuclear has been sidelined by spiraling costs and cheaper renewables. It also finds itself at the center of a diplomatic row spanning trade and human rights that threatens to undermine how the sector is financed.
Bloomberg 8th July 2020 read more »