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CGN, EDF ink final investment agreements for Britain’s Hinkley Point C



The Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power plant received the green light on Sept 29 as French, British and Chinese parties signed a final deal for its construction.

He Yu from China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) signed the contract, which paves the way for the plant’s construction, alongside UK Business Secretary Greg Clark and chairman of the French energy firm EDF, Jean-Bernard Levy.

The definitive green light given by the UK government early September indicates that all the necessary government and commercial approvals have been completed to allow HPC nuclear power project to move forward.

“Hinkley is a prime example of how three great nations can collaborate together to enable a piece of critical infrastructure to happen by pooling their technology, resources and expertise,” CGN Chairman He Yu said.

As part of the agreements signed between CGN and EDF, CGN will carry out preparatory work for the proposed British nuclear project Bradwell B (BRB) and submit China's indigenous nuclear technology HPR1000or Hualong-1 to the UK government's rigorous Generic Design Assessment (GDA) requirements.

China's Director of National Energy Administration Nuer Bekri, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, China's ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaioming, UK's Ambassador to China Barbara Woodward and French Ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann attended the signing ceremony.

Co-invested by CGN and EDF, HPC will begin construction in 2019 with a view to start operating in 2025. The power plant is considered the flagship product for UK-China cooperation and CGN’s heavy investment marks a “golden era” of China-UK cooperation.

The UK is seeking to move toward a low-carbon economy and nuclear power stations like HPC will play an important part. The construction of HPC alone will provide some 25,000 employment opportunities which will benefit France and Britain’s nuclear power industry supply chain, as well as provide skills training.

Once completed, it will provide safe, secure and reliable power to around six million British customers and satisfy seven percent of the UK's energy needs. As well as abundant clear energy, HPC will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at an annual rate of nine million metric tons and offer 900 jobs per year during its 60-year lifecycle.

Stamp of approval

There are eight nuclear power stations accounting for 20 percent of the total power consumption in the UK, but they are scheduled to close around 2030. Meanwhile, the UK’s thermal power plants will be closed around 2025.

As part of CGN's agreement with EDF to collaborate on Hinkley, the companies will also cooperate in two more British projects: at Sizewell in Suffolk (SZC) and Bradwell in Essex (BRB).

BRB is being led by CGN, which holds a major stake of 66.5 percent, while EDF holds the rest. CGN plans to use China's third generation nuclear technology HPR1000.

Co-developed by CGN and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), HPR1000’s safety is fairly competitive with the major third generation nuclear technology designed by the United States, France and Russia, and are more economical.

CGN established a GDA project department in February 2015 to work on the regulatory process; its technical preparation for the GDA assessment process was completed on July 8.

CGN Chairman He Yu said if HPR1000 passes GDA, it will set an example, attract more countries to import it and fuel exports in the Chinese equipment manufacturing industry.

Many countries have shown great interest in the technology, including Thailand, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, Turkey, Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic.

CGN’s core interest in investing in Britain is to invest in BRB and promote HPR1000 to pass GDA. Being the main force of Chinese nuclear power development, CGN commits to being the vanguard and main force to export Chinese nuclear power technology to the rest of the world, according to He.