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China eyes new project after Hinkley

By Chris Peterson and Cecily Liu in London (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-30 07:29

Power plant design would get major boost if it passes Britain's stringent approval process

China will submit its indigenous nuclear technology to the United Kingdom government's rigorous assessment program with a view to getting approval in five years - and to use it to build a power station at Bradwell, on the English east coast.

The announcement by China General Nuclear Corp Chairman He Yu was made on Thursday.

It came just after CGN, the French utility EDF and the UK government signed a final agreement on another project that is earlier in the pipeline, the UK's 18 billion pound ($23.4 billion) Hinkley Point power plant, giving it the definitive green light. CGN will finance one-third of that investment.

The Hinkley Point project is seen as a precursor for plans to introduce Chinese nuclear technology.

If Chinese technology passes GDA assessment, the Bradwell plant could be the first nuclear project in a developed market to use a Chinese design

As a part of the contracts signed on Thursday, CGN and EDF would also jointly invest in Sizewell and Bradwell, proposed UK nuclear projects. CGN would be the majority shareholder in Bradwell, which plans to use China's third generation nuclear technology Hualong One.

Being the majority investor in Bradwell, with a 66.5 percent share, means CGN will bear responsibility for the project and its financial returns will be higher, He said.

The UK's General Design Assessment, which determines if a new nuclear technology can be used in the UK, is known to be the world's most rigorous. Currently only France's European Pressurized Reactor design has GDA approval. The US' AP1000 technology is still pending GDA approval. France's EPR model is being used for Hinkley Point.

"Once Hualong One passes GDA, it will boost more countries' confidence and push forward Hualong One's global market development," He said.

Bradwell's technology will be modeled on Hualong One technology deployed at Guangxi Fangchenggang Phase II power station.

CGN established a GDA project department in February 2015 to work on the regulatory process; technical preparation for the GDA assessment process was completed by this July.

The new UK government, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, took all sides by surprise in July when she said she needed more time to assess the project. Approval came two weeks ago, with the extra condition that Hinkley and other foreign-funded nuclear plants cannot change hands without the government's agreement.

An EDF board meeting on Sept 27 confirmed that EDF is happy with the extra condition.

Hinkley will begin construction in 2019 with a view to start operating in 2025. It will satisfy 7 percent of the UK's energy needs.

Lady Barbara Judge, former chairwoman of UK Atomic Energy Authority, said China has good technical nuclear capabilities. "I have great respect for the nuclear projects all over China," she said.

Andrew Shepherd, senior energy and infrastructure analyst at BMI Research, said "rigorous and robust assessment of China's own domestically designed reactor by UK regulators would certainly give China's nuclear export plans a significant boost."

He said CGN will increase efforts to communicate with greater emphasis on "transparency" with the UK public about its technology in order to build trust.

He said CGN is currently in advanced stages of preparing nuclear investments in Romania. Other areas being considered include the Czech Republic, Southeast Asian countries, South Africa, and Turkey.

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