China could quit UK nuclear projects if role threatened, experts warn. Effort to remove state-owned CGN from Sizewell C said to leave Hinkley Point and Bradwell developments exposed. China General Nuclear is likely to walk away from the Hinkley Point C power station being built in Somerset if the Chinese state-owned nuclear company is forced out of other future projects in the UK, industry experts warned on Monday. The company is already a minority investor in the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point nuclear power station, which France’s EDF is building. One nuclear industry executive warned that CGN could now reassess its involvement with Hinkley Point. They pointed out there were four interlinked agreements between CGN, EDF and the government dating to 2015: Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell and the pursuit of regulatory approval for China’s reactor design. Steve Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at University of Greenwich, said CGN’s investment in Hinkley was designed to make a profit and also help secure its plant at Bradwell. With both of those now in jeopardy, the company could quit the UK, he warned. The Chinese company is eager to get UK regulatory approval at Bradwell for its own Hualong One HPR1000 reactor in order to help market it in other countries. The reactor design is currently going through the UK’s rigorous approval process with a decision expected in the second quarter of next year.
But Thomas pointed out that with Hinkley’s budget having jumped from £14bn to as much as £22.5bn it was no longer clear whether the consortium would make a profit. “I would have thought that would put it into lossmaking territory,” he said. “They may well be very happy for an excuse to get out of it,” Thomas said. “If Bradwell is off the agenda and Hinkley Point won’t make money, why stick around?” Alison Downes of Stop Sizewell C, a pressure group, said the government’s position threw EDF’s funding problems for the new plant into sharper relief: “The simple fact is that Sizewell C won’t go ahead without new investors,” she said.
FT 27th July 2021 read more »
As with 5G, there are trade-offs in shutting out Chinese know-how.Most of the existing nuclear power plants in the UK close up By 2025, new plants will be needed to fill the gap, coal will be phased out, and the UK will meet its net zero emissions target. With the exception of major advances in battery technology that can store wind and solar power, the UK will need nuclear power for base load power. The latest “Climate Change Commission” Carbon balance suggested that the UK would need 10 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity by 2050.
FT 26th July 2021 read more »
Ministers are considering buying a multibillion-pound equity stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk amid concerns about the involvement of China’s state-owned nuclear energy company. The government is examining alternatives to the involvement of China General Nuclear (CGN) in the £20 billion power station. Ministers are in discussions with EDF, the main company behind the plant, about funding. The government could also block the involvement of CGN in future projects such as plans for a new nuclear power plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. A Whitehall source confirmed a report by The Financial Times that said the government is exploring ways of removing CGN from future projects. The Times understands that two approaches are being considered. The first would involve the government buying a stake in Sizewell C, and the second is finding alternative investors.
Times 26th July 2021 read more »
Sky News 26th July 2021 read more »
NS Energy 26th July 2021 read more »
BBC 26th July 2021 read more »
East Anglian Daily Times 26th July 2021 read more »
China’s state-owned nuclear energy company could be blocked from all future power projects in the UK, with ministers understood to be investigating ways to prevent its involvement. The move would exclude China General Nuclear (CGN) from the consortium planning to build the £20 billion Sizewell C nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast, as well as one in Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. A Whitehall source confirmed a report by the Financial Times that first revealed that the Government is exploring ways of removing CGN from future projects.
Basildon Echo 25th July 2021 read more »
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Monday that “The British should earnestly provide an open, fair and non discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies.” China and Britain are important trade and investment partners for each other, he added. “It is in the interests of both sides to conduct practical cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit and a win-win result.” Zhao said.
Reuters 26th July 2021 read more »
What needs to be pointed out is that Chinese nuclear energy companies have state-of-the-art technology and strong investment capabilities. The cooperation between China and the UK on nuclear energy is mutually beneficial. If such cooperation is to be suspended under duress, this will be against UK’s interest in terms of benefiting from China’s advanced technology and capital investment, developing clean energy to achieve its planned carbon neutrality goal and proving itself to be a credible global partner. We are firmly opposed to political interference or obstructions from a third party that restrict Chinese companies’ normal access to the UK market. China-UK business cooperation has huge potential and serves the interests of both sides. We hope the UK side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies in this country.
Chinese Embassy 27th July 2021 read more »
GMB, the energy union, has responded to reports Ministers are investigating ways to prevent China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from involvement in all future power projects in the UK. Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, said:“This move represents a staggering u-turn from the Conservatives. We now have a huge opportunity to regain the UK’s position as the world leader in new nuclear – which is vital if we are going to hit our net zero targets.
GMB 26th July 2021 read more »
From golden era to radioactive. Deals turn sour all the time but few end quite as spectacularly, or indeed predictably, as George Osborne’s nuclear tie-up with China. It was all part of Osborne’s desperate attempts as Chancellor to deepen trading ties with the world’s emerging economic superpower, a charm offensive that ended in glittering fashion with a rather unconvinced President Xi Jinping drinking a pint in a Greene King pub. Talk about serving up a true slice of English culture. Yet six years later, little remains of Osborne’s vision for Sino-British relations. Huawei has already been unceremoniously banned from the UK’s 5G telecoms network. Now plans to allow China’s state-owned nuclear energy company to help build Britain’s new nuclear fleet, including the £20bn Sizewell C power station on the Suffolk coast, are on the verge of being torn up. It was always the next flashpoint in relations, as Sir Iain Duncan Smith spotted ages ago when he began calling Sizewell C “the next Huawei”. So much for not upsetting the Chinese. Sinophiles have long insisted that the UK cannot afford to incur the wrath of China, including of course Osborne, who still clings foolishly to the idea that it can be a trusted ally. In the meantime, there appears to be no proper contingency plan. Ministers claim that the removal of the Chinese will encourage other partners to come forward but there is meagre appetite in the City for a project of this scale and with such massive risks.
Telegraph 26th July 2021 read more »