UK, France's EDF agree on nuclear plant; Chinese firms in consortium

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 3:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 3:27am

Britain has signed a deal with France's EDF to build a £16 billion (HK$200 billion) nuclear plant, becoming the first European country to provide state guarantees to help finance a nuclear project.

The Hinkley Point C project in England, the first new European nuclear plant since the Fukushima crisis, was expected to start producing power from 2023 and would receive a guaranteed electricity "strike" price of £92.50 per megawatt-hour for 35 years, more than twice the current market rate, EDF said yesterday.

The deal demonstrates that nuclear power plant developers require government backing for new projects in Europe, where costs have surged after regulators imposed stricter safety rules following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

An EDF-led consortium would build two Areva-designed 1,650-megawatt European Pressurised Water Reactors (EPRs) that would produce about 7 per cent of British electricity, EDF said. Its long-time Chinese partners, China General Nuclear Corp (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corp, will take a combined stake of 30 to 40 per cent in the consortium.

CGN is building two EPRs in Taishan and the Chinese companies hope their involvement in the British project will help them eventually sell Chinese-designed reactors in Europe.

British Finance Minister George Osborne said in China last week Chinese nuclear firms could hold majority stakes in British plants in future.