New build takes a big step forward

The State visit of Chinese President Xi has seen a major step forward for nuclear new build with the announcement of a Strategic Investment Agreement between China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) and EDF. The agreement covers not only the construction of a new twin reactor station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, but also new nuclear stations at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. While the Hinkley and Sizewell units are not particularly surprising, as the planning is well advanced at both sites, this is the first official confirmation about Bradwell.

As expected, EDF will be the majority partner at Hinkley Point and Sizewell and each site will feature twin EPR reactors The Chinese investors will lead at Bradwell using their own technology.

CGN will take a 33.5% stake in the Hinkley project. However, this is still not the final investment decision, which is expected within weeks. The probable reason for not announcing the final decision now is that EDF expect to sell approximately a further 15% of the project while still maintaining control of more than 50% of the project. It can be assumed that the final go-ahead will follow the conclusion of this deal.

EDF will also have a majority stake in Sizewell. CGN will have 66.5% of the Bradwell scheme which will be the first use of Chinese reactor design in Europe. Obviously as a new reactor type it will need to get Generic Design Assessment approval before the consortium can start the process of applying for planning approval.