Today the UK government have approved plans for a new £18bn nuclear power station, although has enforced “significant new safeguards” in the interest of national security. The new plant will be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset with funding coming from the French and Chinese governments. The UK government has stressed that it will have control over the foreign investment and ministers have the power to stop EDF, the French state controlled energy company from selling its stake in Hinkley Point C.
EDF will finance two-thirds of the project which is set to create more than 25,000 jobs, whilst China will invest the final £6bn. The power plant will meet 7% of British energy demand, and the Chinese stake in the construction of Hinkley Point C will also see developments of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk, with the understanding that the UK government will give the green light to a Chinese led project at Bradwell in Essex. Critics of the plan have concerns over national security given the level of involvement from China and the guaranteed strike price of £92.50/MWh for 35 years of generation.
The decision on investment was confirmed by EDF’s board in July, with agreement in principle with China when President Xi made a state visit to the UK in October 2015. The approval decision was then delayed by the UK government on 29 July before giving approval today.