The Chinese government has emerged as a potential buyer of a multibillion-pound stake in Britain’s nuclear power plants. The talks will reignite debate about China’s involvement in the UK nuclear power industry. Two years ago, the government paused approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point C project because of security concerns over China’s stake. China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run corporation, is said to be interested in buying a major stake in eight power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent. The power stations are operated by EDF Energy, a subsidiary of the French company EDF, but earlier this year, the British Gas owner, Centrica, put its 20% stake up for sale. The Sunday Times suggested CGN hoped to acquire a 49% stake, which indicates EDF could be looking to offload some of its shareholding. The proposed deal would be a headache for Theresa May, who is concerned about giving China greater access to critical infrastructure projects and has initiated a new national security test for foreign takeovers. Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, said Britain was an outlier in its openness to Chinese investment. He said. “There is no other OECD country that would allow China to own any of its critical infrastructure, let alone its nuclear infrastructure.” Dorfman said EDF, with €33bn (£29bn) of debt, was eager to raise funds from asset sales. “EDF is in financial difficulties and has been for some time. It’s looking to sell off whatever it can sell off. It’s worried about debt, its credit rating … plus its waste and decommissioning liabilities,” he said.
Guardian 8th July 2018 read more »
The Chinese government is considering buying a significant stake in Britain’s eight nuclear power stations, raising the prospect of fresh concerns about foreign influence over the nation’s critical energy infrastructure. China General Nuclear, the state-run nuclear investor, is in the early stages of a potential bid for as much as 49 per cent of the power stations, which are majority-owned and operated by EDF, the French energy group, according to The Sunday Times. The stake is being sold by EDF and its junior partner Centrica, the British Gas owner, which has expressed a desire to offload its 20 per cent stake in the power plants by 2020. China’s interest in owning a large stake in the power stations, which generate about 20 per cent of Britain’s electricity, could pose a stiff test for Theresa May, although EDF would retain control of the plants if a deal went ahead. CGN wants to expand its nuclear operations in Britain and is a key investor in the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than 20 years. Mrs May delayed approval for the plant amid concerns over the implications of Chinese involvement on energy, security and safety, only to agree to it in September 2016.
Times 9th July 2018 read more »