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Britain signs $26b nuclear plant deal

By Agencies in Paris and London | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-22 08:12

French utility EDF and the British government have signed an agreement to build two nuclear reactors for a total cost of 16 billion pounds ($25.9 billion), EDF said on Monday.

The first new reactors in the UK in around 20 years will be built with the help of EDF's Chinese partners and represent a boost for the global nuclear industry in the wake of 2011's Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Under the deal, EDF said it would have a 45 to 50 percent stake in the consortium to build two Areva-designed European Pressurized Water Reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, in southwest England.

In addition, EDF is also developing proposals for two reactors at Sizewell C in Suffolk, in eastern England.

British Energy Secretary Ed Davey told the BBC the power project is critical to the country's efforts "to keep the lights on and to power British business". The plant at Hinkley point won't start generating power until 2023.

One of the last barriers to the deal was removed during a visit to Asia last week by Treasury chief George Osborne, who announced Chinese firms would be permitted to invest in civilian nuclear projects.

EDF's long-time partners China General Nuclear Corp and China National Nuclear Corp will have a combined stake of 30 to 40 percent in the project, while Areva will take a 10 percent stake, according to Reuters.

"The partnership will give CGN and CNNC the opportunity to gain experience in the UK and will support their long-term objective of becoming nuclear developers in the UK in partnership with EDF Group and in full compliance with UK regulatory requirements," the EDF statement said.

Discussions are also taking place with a shortlist of other interested parties who could take up to 15 percent, EDF said.

The contract will last for 35 years from the date of commissioning, with an electricity price set at 92.5 pounds per megawatt hour, or 89.5 pounds if a second nuclear plant project at Sizewell goes ahead.


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