The next nu­clear gen­er­a­tion

Chi­nese cor­po­ra­tion is play­ing a cru­cial role in the con­struc­tion of UK’s mas­sive new power plant in South­west Eng­land

China Daily European Weekly - - Business - By LEI XIAOXUN and CECILY LIU Con­tact the writ­ers at leix­i­aoxun@chi­ and cecily.liu@mail.chi­nadai­

Con­struc­tion work at the Hink­ley Point C nu­clear power plant con­tin­ues around the clock in a high-pro­file ex­am­ple of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the United King­dom, France and China. More than 1,900 work­ers are in­volved in the pro­ject on the Bris­tol Chan­nel coast­line of Somerset, a county in South­west Eng­land.

The bustling site is a sign that the UK is on track to se­cure its fu­ture en­ergy se­cu­rity, de­spite French util­ity com­pany Elec­tricite de France SA, or EDF, warn­ing in July of po­ten­tial de­lays and bud­get over­runs.

China Gen­eral Nu­clear Power Corp, or CGN, is in­vest­ing £6 bil­lion ($7.74 bil­lion; 6.47 bil­lion euros) into Hink­ley, which will cost £18 bil­lion.

“Al­ready a num­ber of CGN peo­ple have joined us on the Hink­ley pro­ject,” says Richard Mayson, a se­nior di­rec­tor at EDF. “That cross-fer­til­iza­tion of ideas is in­valu­able.”

The deal be­tween CGN and EDF was signed in Oc­to­ber 2015 dur­ing President Xi Jin­ping’s state visit to the UK. It re­ceived for­mal ap­proval from the UK gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber last year.

Hink­ley Point C’s lead in­vestor, EDF, and its Chi­nese part­ners re­main con­fi­dent about the pro­ject. They worked to­gether on

China’s Tais­han nu­clear power sta­tion in Guang­dong prov­ince, us­ing the same EPR tech­nol­ogy, or third-gen­er­a­tion pres­sur­ized wa­ter re­ac­tor de­sign.

De­vel­oped by the French group, EPR tech­nol­ogy raised con­cerns when its im­ple­men­ta­tion at Fla­manville, France, and Olk­i­luto, Fin­land, was plagued by de­lays and bud­get over­runs.

But con­struc­tion of the Tais­han pro­ject is ex­pected to be com­pleted next year. It will be the world’s first nu­clear power sta­tion us­ing EPR.

“CGN has built a large num­ber of sta­tions in China,” Mayson says. “That abil­ity to build to time and scale is very im­por­tant to make sure Hink­ley is built in the most ef­fi­cient way.”

It will be the first new nu­clear plant to be con­structed in the UK since the 1990s and will sup­ply 7 per­cent of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity when com­pleted in 2025.

It will also be a cen­tral part of Bri­tain’s ef­forts to re­place and phase out aging power sta­tions.

Over­all ca­pac­ity in the UK has fallen by 12 per­cent since 2012 as coal-fired power plants have been grad­u­ally shut down to com­ply with the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ments to tackle cli­mate change.

In ad­di­tion to its sig­nif­i­cance as a pi­o­neer­ing pro­ject, Hink­ley is a land­mark for China’s nu­clear in­dus­try.

The role that CGN is play­ing in the pro­ject “is not a hands-off in­vestor”, says Mayson. Its con­tri­bu­tion also in­cludes tech­ni­cal and pro­gram im­ple­men­ta­tion, he adds.

EDF and CGN are also col­lab­o­rat­ing on the Brad­well B nu­clear plant, a planned pro­ject in Es­sex, close to Lon­don.

CGN is the ma­jor­ity in­vestor and will use a Hua-long Pres­sur­ized Re­ac­tor 1000, known as HPR1000, which is third-gen­er­a­tion tech­nol­ogy.

“Our part­ner­ship with EDF is a win-win col­lab­o­ra­tion,” says Zheng Dong­shan, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Gen­eral Nu­clear In­ter­na­tional, the Lon­don-based sub­sidiary of CGN. “We sup­port them fi­nan­cially and tech­ni­cally at Hink­ley, and they will help us to im­ple­ment HPR1000 at Brad­well.”

Tim Yeo, for­mer chair­man of the House of Com­mons en­ergy and cli­mate change com­mit­tee, says the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval of Hink­ley shows its strong com­mit­ment to nu­clear en­ergy and that it wel­comes Chi­nese in­vest­ment.

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