Britain wants to remove China’s China General Nuclear Power from nuclear power projects

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British business and economic dynamics

The British government is exploring ways to remove Chinese state-owned nuclear energy companies from all future electricity projects in the UK, including a consortium that plans to build new nuclear power plants. £20 billion Sizewell nuclear power According to people familiar with the matter, the station in Suffolk.

The change in the mood of the top government has also affected China General Nuclear Power’s (CGN) proposal to use its own reactor technology to build a new plant in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, and raised questions about the UK’s future nuclear energy plans.

In recent years, the relationship between London and Beijing has been chilling due to the treatment of dissidents and Uyghur minorities in China’s suppression of Hong Kong’s dissidents and the handling of the initial Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said last year that the UK could no longer proceed “Business as usual” And Beijing. The most high-profile action so far is the government’s decision to force Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer Huawei to withdraw from the UK’s 5G network.

The move comes as the United States and its allies in Europe and Asia are increasingly discussing how to prevent China from acquiring sensitive technology and ensure that they do not rely too much on Chinese technology in their supply chains or critical infrastructure.

Nuclear power cooperation can be traced back to an agreement with China in 2015, which is Recognized At the time British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The transaction envisages that China General Nuclear Power will become a 20% partner of the Sizewell C plant development project in the Suffolk Coast Plan, and can choose to participate in its construction. It also sealed China’s investment in the 3.2 GW Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant currently under construction in Somerset.

According to the agreement, China General Nuclear Power has also become the main developer of the proposed Bradwell B plant in Essex, where it plans to install its own Hualong HPR1000 reactor technology.

The design is currently going through the approval process of the UK regulatory agency. But a person familiar with the matter said that China’s plan to build a power plant on the coast only 50 kilometers from London cannot be launched.

They said: “CGN has no chance to build Bradwell. Considering our approach to Huawei, they [Downing Street] Will not let a Chinese company build a new nuclear power plant. “

The person added that they have discussed with the main developer of the French government-backed utility company EDF Sizewell C on whether they can find new partners for the project.

Another person close to the discussion said that on the 10th, China General Nuclear Power did not want to participate in any project, but hoped that the company would withdraw without any confrontation. China Guangdong Nuclear Power and EDF declined to comment.

British ministers are worried about China General Nuclear Power’s involvement in the UK’s critical infrastructure and believe that Sizewell will be feasible without the participation of Chinese companies.

Although EDF used the technical input of CGN engineers on Hinkley Point C, the technology will operate using European pressurized reactor technology (a French-German design).

CGN’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in South China was the first nuclear power plant in the world to operate using EPR technology. More than 100 CGN engineers participated in Hinkley Point C, of ​​which about 50 were at the Somerset site.

But a nuclear expert expressed nervousness about CGN’s lack of participation in future projects involving EPR: “It’s the Chinese who built [first operational] EPR. “

Nevertheless, removing CGN from Sizewell may help EDF attract North American infrastructure investors to participate in the project, otherwise nuclear industry leaders said that if China participates, this will be a problem.

The U.S. included China General Nuclear Power on its export blacklist in 2019, claiming that it had stolen U.S. technology Military use, And the Trump administration Warn the uk not China participates in nuclear power.

According to a British government official, the former Prime Minister Theresa May was forcing China General Nuclear Power to withdraw from the “beard” of Hinkley Point C.May ordered a review, which allowed the Somerset project to go ahead But only certain strict conditions are attached.

The government refused to confirm or deny that the government no longer wants China General Nuclear Power to participate in the nuclear program. A spokesperson said: “All nuclear projects in the UK are carried out under strict and independent supervision to meet the UK’s stringent legal, regulatory and national security requirements to ensure that our interests are protected.”

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