UK government paves way for Chinese nuclear plant

18 June 2014 World Nuclear News

The UK and China signed two agreements 17 June enabling Chinese companies not only to invest in nuclear power plant projects but also to build Chinese-design nuclear reactors in the UK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said.

The agreements were signed during China Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to the UK between 16 and 19 June.

Cameron welcomes Li to Downing Street

Li and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a civil nuclear agreement, which DECC said "paves the way" for Chinese companies to invest in Hinkley Point C - EDF Energy's project to build two 1.6 GW EPR at Hinkley Point on the northern Somerset coast.

In a joint statement, Li and Cameron said China and the UK "stand ready to work together to ensure the success of Hinkley Point as soon as possible."

DECC and EDF Group, EDF Energy's parent company, announced last October they had agreed the main commercial terms of an investment contract for Hinkley Point C, allowing the state-owned French company to secure partners to finance the project. The share of equity is expected to be divided between EDF with 45-50%, China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) with 30-40%, Areva with 10%, and "interested parties" with up to 15%.

DECC said the joint civil nuclear agreement signed yesterday also aims at "better cooperation in the wider nuclear fuel supply chain cycle by working together to develop and export innovative solutions in areas such as waste treatment and decommissioning which could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies over several years."

The agreement builds on a memorandum of understanding the UK signed with China last October, which set out a framework of cooperation in civil nuclear energy, DECC said.

The second and separate agreement is a four-way memorandum of understanding between DECC, CNNC, China Atomic Energy Authority, and International Nuclear Services - the commercial arm of the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. DECC said this "landmark agreement" would enable Chinese companies to own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the UK, provided they meet UK regulatory requirements.

Rolls-Royce, the British engineering company, announced separately that it had signed identical memoranda of understanding with Chinese nuclear reactor vendors State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Co. The memoranda will "explore possible collaboration in areas such as engineering support, provision of components and systems, supply chain management and instrumentation & control technology," Rolls-Royce said.


EDF shuts down two UK nuclear plants amid safety fears

Reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool shut down after discovery of "unexpected cracking" in boiler unit

The Office for Nuclear Regulation disclosed there had been "unexpected cracking" in a boiler spine, which supports the weight of boiler tubes, in a reactor at Heysham 1 in Lancashire.

EDF Energy has been forced to shut down two of its eight UK nuclear power stations amid safety fears, after discovering "unexpected cracking" in a boiler unit of one of its reactors in Lancashire.

The French-owned energy giant said it had shut down its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants, each of which comprise two reactors, after confirming there was a "defect" in a boiler unit at Heysham 1 Reactor 1.

More than 300 staff will now be deployed to conduct safety tests across all four reactors, having been specially trained for the task over recent months.

Signs of a possible fault were first noticed in November 2013, leading to the "isolation" of one of the reactor's eight boiler units. But it was only when the reactor was shut down in June for detailed inspections that EDF confirmed the defect.

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