Initial UK government guarantee for Hinkley Point C

21 September 2015

The UK government has today announced up to £2 billion ($3 billion) in support for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, the first such plant in Britain for 20 years. The guarantee paves the way for Chinese investment in the UK's nuclear industry.

Hinkley Point C CGI - 460 (EDF Energy)
A computer-generated impression of how Hinkley Point C could appear
(Image: EDF Energy)

The guarantee was announced by Chancellor George Osborne during a five-day trip to China for the seventh UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue in Beijing. The guarantee will be provided by Infrastructure UK, a unit within the Treasury, which works on the UK's long-term infrastructure priorities and secures private sector investment.

The European Commission approved the Hinkley Point C state aid case in October 2014. The £2 billion is covered by that approval. The government said, "Further amounts [will be] available should EDF meet certain conditions and subject to fuller government approvals".

In a statement, EDF Energy said: "The initial deal is set to be worth around £2 billion ($3 billion) and will pave the way for a final investment decision by energy company EDF, supported by China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), later this year."

EDF Energy has letters of intent with CNNC and CGN to take 30-40% of the Hinkley Point C project between them.

A Treasury statement said the government guarantee "is also expected to open the door to unprecedented collaboration in the UK and China on the construction of new nuclear power stations." It added, "The agreement also boosts work being carried out under a memorandum of understanding on fuel cycle collaboration signed with China in 2014, which has the potential to leverage UK expertise in waste management and decommissioning as well as support UK growth."

In addition to the Hinkley Point C guarantee, Osborne also announced that the UK and China will work together to co-fund a £50 million ($78 million), "cutting-edge" nuclear research centre, to be headquartered in the UK.

He also announced a regional collaboration agreement between the UK county of Cumbia and China's Sichuan province, "deepening commercial ties between the province and the North-West's world-leading expertise in nuclear decommissioning and waste management".

"Together, these announcements will pave the way for deepening collaboration in nuclear sectors in the UK and China, including for UK companies accessing China's rapidly growing nuclear market," a UK government statement said.

Announcing the government guarantee for Hinkley Point C, Osborne said, "Britain was the home to the very first civil nuclear power stations in the world and I am determined that we now lead the way again ... I am delighted to announce this guarantee for Hinkley Point today and to be in China to discuss their investments in Britain's nuclear industry. It is another move forward for the global relationship between Britain and China - the world's oldest civil nuclear power and the world's fastest growing civil nuclear power."

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz welcome the announcement, saying: "The Chancellor's approval of the infrastructure guarantee is a clear sign of the government's commitment to Hinkley Point C. The government's determination to bring about a renewal of infrastructure and to attract inward investment to the UK are demonstrated by this good news. It is further progress towards a final investment decision on a project which will provide reliable, affordable low carbon electricity for decades. We welcome the government's support for the industrial participation by EDF and its Chinese partners."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News