Why the chancellor wants China to invest in UK nuclear


Part of what has been holding back the development of new nuclear power plants in the UK is their enormous cost.

The government is refusing to finance these hugely pricey projects directly - although it will allow the owners of any new nuclear generators to charge well above the current market price for any power they produce in years and decades to come, so that the billions in development and construction costs can be recouped.

The big attraction for the chancellor of allowing Chinese companies to invest in Britain's nuclear industry is that they have deep pockets.

On his current trip to China, he has told the biggest Chinese nuclear companies they will in future even be able to own controlling stakes in British power stations, and not just small minority shares.

When you think about the history of nuclear power, it may be shocking to some that businesses and investors from Britain - whose scientists and engineers were pioneers in this technology in the early days - will not own the new generation of nuclear power plants, and they may instead belong to China's nuclear power giants (as well as to the French and Japanese).

The first of these deals with Chinese interests is expected to come next week, when the formal go ahead is expected for the construction of a new £14bn plant at the Hinkley C site in Somerset.

This project will be led by the French state-controlled giant, EdF, which has been looking for a partner or partners to share the costs.

I am told that EdF has been negotiating with three nuclear giants, CGN, CNNC and SNPTC. One or two of these is likely to end up owning perhaps 30% of Hinkley C.

George Osborne has met the bosses of all three of these companies, to give them comfort that he is keen for them to invest in British nuclear in general, and in Hinkley C in particular.

Hinkley C's technology will be French, that of Areva. And the capital, the money, will be French, and - it now turns out - probably Chinese too.

Robert Peston Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

Why is the Treasury's interest rate so low?

How should the government take advantage of the record low interest rates it pays?

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Robert


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I never realised that we still had so many "Little Englander xenophobes" who do not appreciate the economic importance of attracting Direct Foreign Investment to this country.
    Fact: we don't have the money.
    Fact: we don't have the technical capability.
    The latter was run down over many decades because politicians bowed to the anti-nuclear "green" sandal-wearing brigade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Absolute INSANITY.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't nuclear power add heat under/within the Earth's thermal blanket ?

    Can't you see that arctic methane saying to itself 'can't wait to make those human beings and pretty much everything else extinct'

    The foolishness of humanity knows no bounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Whoops, here comes an asteroid; oh dear, it's hit a nuclear power station.

    (what are the chances) ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Thank God I live in Germany! Here all that filthy, dangerous, stupid, expensive nuclear power is being phased out.
    That would explain why some Germans are complaining about having no landscapes and seascape left and why they are returning to coal, I suppose?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Its worth noting that the Chinese increase the worlds carbon emissions by 9% each year. Our total emissions are only 6% so all the efforts of our brave and glorious eco warriors to destroy our energy industry in the name of climate change are a complete waste of time.

    They have served only to put the lights out and make us dependent upon a foreign dictatorship. Well done Ed Millipede. .


Comments 5 of 338



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.