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China's CGN a step closer to bringing its nuclear technology to UK

By Chris Peterson and Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2017-06-15 00:25

China's goal of boosting its nuclear technology sector took a big step forward on Wednesday with the creation of three new companies in the UKby China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

China's CGN a step closer to bringing its nuclear technology to UK

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site is seen near Bridgwater in Britain, September 14, 2016.   [Photo/Agencies]

The newentities are:Bradwell Power Corp, which will be responsible for the 100 percent Chinese-built Bradwell B nuclear plant; General Nuclear System Ltd, which will shepherd China's Hualong technology through the exacting five-year UK approval process; and General Nuclear International, which will manage CGN's projects in the UK.

He Yu, CGN chairman, said: "The unveiling of three companies is a solid step forward for CGN to expand its operation in the UK.With its new subsidiaries unfolding, the company is confident that it will grow steadily in the field of nuclear technology in Britain."

The United Kingdom will formally assess the Hualong One technology as part of a deal reached last year,in which Chinese investment will help build the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, in which France's EDF is a major participant, and which will feature French technology.

CGN and EDF have been working together for more than 30 years on nuclear development and construction in China.

Under last year's agreement, CGN and EDF will collaborate on three UK nuclear plants: Hinkley Point C, in Somerset; Sizewell C, in Suffolk; and Bradwell, in Essex.

CGN intends to use Hualong One technology at Bradwell, which could be the first nuclear plant in a developed economyto use Chinese technology.

Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will use French technology.

EDF holds 66.5 percent of the shares in Hinkley Point C, and Chinese enterprises led by CGN hold 33.5 percent.

The companies will seek to get the Hualong One technology approved in the UK via an assessment known as the Generic Design Assessment process. It usually takes about five years to complete.

China hopes that UK approval of its technology will open the door to its use in other countries because the UK's appraisal regime is considered by industry experts to be the strictest in the world.

"We plan to submit the preliminary security report to the British government by mid-November and wrap up all the first phase examination work by then," He said.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, the UK's nuclear regulators, will conduct the assessment. All nuclear operators in the UK must work within thenation's strict regulatory framework, and all reactor designs must satisfy the safety, security and environmental requirements of the GDA process.

The proposed Bradwell project is in an early pre-planning stage, something that is likely to continue for many years, via investigative work and public consultation, before detailed proposals will be produced, allowing a planning application to be made.

CGN's investment in the Hinkley Point C project is the largest Chinese investment to date in Europe and will comprise an initial investment of 6 billion pounds. It is likely to generate 25,000 jobs and the power station will meet 7 percent of Britain's power needs when it goes online in 2025. The plant is expected to have a lifespan of 60 years.

Last year,Liu Xiaoming,China's ambassador to the UK, described the Hinkley Point C contract as an example of "the golden fruit" that comes from China-UK collaboration.

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