China 'to take one-third stake' in British nuclear plant

China is taking a 33.5-per cent share in the construction of two reactors at Hinkley Point, south-western England.
China is taking a 33.5-per cent share in the construction of two reactors at Hinkley Point, south-western England.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - China has agreed to take a one-third stake in French power giant EDF's £25 billion (S$53.8-billion) next-generation nuclear project at Hinkley Point in Britain, French business daily Les Echos said on Tuesday (Oct 20).

The deal comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping embarks on a four-day state visit to Britain to build closer business ties.

China is taking a 33.5-per cent share in the construction of two reactors at Hinkley Point, south-western England, in a deal signed by EDF with China General Nuclear Power Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, Les Echos said.

The agreement also foresees the possibility of building a Chinese "Hualong" nuclear reactor at Bradwell, south-eastern England, which is also owned by EDF's British offshoot EDF Energy, the paper said.

EDF declined to comment on the report.

London is looking to Xi's visit as an opportunity to seal the deal for Hinkley Point, two years after it first gave the green light for the project.

A report in the Financial Times said the deal was signed hours before Xi's arrival in Britain and would be announced on Wednesday.

Hinkley Point would feature two European Pressurised Reactors, a third-generation reactor design considered the most advanced and safest in the world, each with a capacity of 1.6 gigawatts.

The reactors are expected to be able to power five million homes, providing 7 per cent of the country's electricity needs.

Though originally scheduled to go into service in 2023, EDF Energy's boss, Vincent de Rivaz, recently acknowledged the deadline was unlikely to be met because of the time taken to negotiate the investment. The Financial Times said the new completion date would be 2025.