The British government in July 2016 cast doubt on the future of a controversial 18-billion pound ($24 billion) project led by Electricite de France SA to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in more than 20 years… Concern about China General Nuclear Power Corp.’s minority stake in the project may have been among reasons for the delay….
The Chinese company’s main involvement will be in the supply chain, providing some components for Hinkley, said Malcolm Grimston, senior research fellow at Imperial College London’s center for environmental policy. Operation of the facility would be in the hands of EDF, which has been in U.K. for years, he said. “The Chinese see Hinkley C as first step towards their goal of building a nuclear station using Chinese technology in the U.K. and as a stepping stone to starting a plant export business to rival the Russians, the Japanese and the French,” said Grimston. “I’m not sure what their motivation would be” to halt an operational power plant “given their interest in being seen as a trustworthy partner.”
The strategic investment agreement reached by EDF and state-owned CGN in October 2016 was to build three new nuclear power stations in the U.K., including a 1 gigawatt plant at Bradwell that the Chinese company would build using its own technology and take a 66.5 percent stake. Chinese reactor designs haven’t yet been approved by the British nuclear regulator, a process which could take at least three years.
Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative member of parliament for Harwich and North Essex, near the proposed Bradwell plant, last year urged the government to assess the security implications of a Chinese designed, owned and operated technology. It could be a “Trojan horse” used to threaten the U.K at a time of critical disagreement or conflict, he said. …
The U.K. government agreed to pay 92.50 pounds for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced from Hinkley Point for 35 years, about twice the current market rate. That contract has been widely criticized after data published on a government website last month showed this subsidy could cost more than 30 billion pounds.
Excerpts from Is China’s Role in Hinkley Point Really a Security Threat?, Bloomberg, Aug. 5, 2016