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Hinkley Point C and Sizewell nuclear power projects could unravel, leaving France’s nuclear company EDF with huge debt.

It was never very likely that the government would allow a Chinese
state-owned company to build a nuclear power station in Britain. So news
that it is now looking for ways to remove China General Nuclear Power Group
(CGN) from future nuclear projects hardly comes as a surprise.

Under the terms of a deal struck in 2015 CGN was to take minority stakes in two
French-led new nuclear power stations, Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C,
while taking a majority stake in a third, Bradwell in Essex, which would
use CGN’s own technology.

This deal, first agreed by the coalition government, was approved with only minor alterations by Theresa May after a review concluded that Britain’s robust regulatory and technological
safeguards were sufficient to protect against any threats to national
security. Whether or not that assessment was right, the political context
has since changed. The mood in parliament, particularly among Conservative
MPs, has turned decisively against China, making it inconceivable that any
government could allow China to build such sensitive national
infrastructure.

CGN was blacklisted from US government contracts in 2019
after being accused by the Trump administration of technology theft. That
has made it harder for France’s EDF to attract the infrastructure
investors that it needs to make Sizewell C financially viable. The risk is
that China does not take its rejection well and the entire three-part deal
unravels, with CGN withdrawing from Hinkley Point C in protest. That could
leave EDF with a further shortfall of up to £4 billion.

 Times 26th July 2021

 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-times-view-on-chinas-role-in-nuclear-plants-power-play-v70d2r76k

July 29, 2021 - Posted by | business and costs, politics international, UK

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