On Tuesday, Britain ousted China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) from construction of its new Sizewell C nuclear power station, which will now be built with the remaining French partner, EDF.
In his first foreign policy speech just a day prior, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that the “golden era” of UK-China relations was over, saying Beijing represented a “systemic challenge” to UK interests.
The prime minister said the UK had to replace wishful thinking with “robust pragmatism” towards competitors and that closer economic ties of the previous decade had been “naïve”.
The UK plans to invest GBP 700 million in the project, which was matched 50:50 by EDF, while CGN’s 20 percent stake will be stripped by Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government.
The development of Sizewell C, which will power about six million homes in eastern England, is underway on the Suffolk coast. At the earliest, London plans to start producing electricity in 2035.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that sent household gas and electricity bills soaring this year, nuclear and renewable energy sources are seen as crucial to Britain’s energy security.
The Sizewell decision raises questions about CGN’s role in building Hinkley Point, a new nuclear power plant in southwestern England, in conjunction with EDF.
A statement from Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on Tuesday stated that the UK government’s investment in Sizewell C will facilitate the project’s future development and allow China General Nuclear to exit.
The UK says Sizewell will deliver cleaner energy than fossil fuels and create thousands of jobs for the local area and national economy.
There are 15 nuclear reactors in the UK, located at eight different sites, but many of them are nearing the end of their lifespans. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, the government will establish a new vehicle, Great British Nuclear, that will oversee development of more projects, with an announcement expected in the new year.
Source: TVP World