This supplement is produced and published by China Daily.
Britain’s nuclear industry could benefit greatly by co-operating with Chinese companies and taking advantage of their expertise and financial strength, an industry insider has said. Two nuclear power plants with Chinese investment are in the pipeline: the French-led Hinkley Point C project and a station at Bradwell in Essex that may be built using Chinese technology. Companies involved in the nuclear sector supply chain such as Amec Foster Wheeler, Hayward Tyler and Centronic have all been keeping a close eye on the progress of the negotiations.
Overall there is a lot of economic benefit from having Chinese investment in Britain’s nuclear sector, according to Mike Tynan, chief executive of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
“Large infrastructure schemes are very expensive and require long-term, reliable and committed investors who have the appetite for risk,” he said. “The Chinese meet all of these requirements.”
The centre, led by Sheffield University and Manchester University, was set up in 2009 to help Britain’s nuclear industry firms improve their technology through research and development and expertise sharing.
“The British and Chinese governments are keen to develop a long-term economic partnership that drives value for both nations,” said Mr Tynan.
“Partnerships between British and Chinese companies will support British advanced manufacturing and drive competitive pricing for reactor components and create a drive for innovation, leading to reduction of cost and risk.”
In addition, there were great technical advantages for Chinese co-operation in Britain’s nuclear sector, as China is on track to become a leading proponent of civil nuclear technology, he said.
Britain has had a thriving nuclear industry since the 1950s, when the world’s first commercial nuclear power station was opened at Calder Hall in Cumbria. The country now has 16 reactors generating 18 per cent of its electricity.
As all but one will be retired by 2023, a new generation of reactors is likely to be introduced. If approved, Hinkley Point and Bradwell would be the first nuclear investments from China in a developed country.
During a visit to China in September, George Osborne encouraged Chinese investors to get involved in Britain’s nuclear sector and announced a £2 billion guarantee for the Hinkley Point project.
The £24.5 billion scheme, led by France’s EDF Energy, is yet to have a final investment decision, but EDF has established an agreement with two Chinese nuclear companies, China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corp.