CGN, China’s leading nuclear energy company, has admitted that political sensitivities could prompt it to give up the chance to operate a new atomic power plant in the UK, as the group also outlined ambitious plans for an industrial partnership with Britain. State-owned CGN would consider not running the nuclear power station it intends to build at Bradwell in Essex using its own reactor technology, said Zheng Dongshan, chief executive of the company’s UK subsidiary. CGN is due to hold a majority stake in the Bradwell plant, with France’s EDF having the remainder, under a contract signed between the two companies in 2016. But prime minister Theresa May – in contrast to her predecessor David Cameron – has put Chinese investment in the UK ‘s nuclear energy sector under increased scrutiny since she took office. She only gave the go-ahead to EDF’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in south-west England – a project where CGN has a minority stake – after a special review. “We understand the political and local sensitivities,” Mr Zheng told the Financial Times. “There is no reason to restrict us as a Chinese investor . . . but we know we must take time to show the public, the government, they can trust us.” CGN, he said, would be willing to consider “not being the majority operator” at the Bradwell plant, where under its agreement with EDF the Chinese company is due to hold a 66.5 per cent stake. The plant could start generating electricity in the late 2020s or early 2030s. Should the Bradwell project proceed, it would be the first power plant in Britain to use Chinese reactor technology called the Hualong HPR1000, which has been developed by CGN and a domestic partner. The Office for Nuclear Regulation, which oversees nuclear safety and security in the UK, is currently assessing the reactor design but a final decision is expected to take at least three years.
FT 18th Sept 2018 read more »