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UK government approves Hinkley Point C

15 Sep 2016 13:41 (+01:00 GMT)
UK government approves Hinkley Point C

London, 15 September (Argus) — The UK government is backing the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, following months of delays and uncertainty.

The 3.2GW plant is expected to start generating in 2025, which would make it the first new nuclear project to be built since the commissioning of the 1.3GW Sizewell B nuclear plant in 1995. And if development consent is granted, the proposed 2.7GW Wylfa new nuclear plant should begin generating power in the same year.

Hinkley Point C is 66.5pc-owned by French utility EdF, and 33.5pc-owned by Chinese utility CGN. But the UK government's review of the project following EdF's approval of the investment has resulted in some changes to the agreement. The UK government now holds some legal powers regarding any potential divestment of shares by EdF, in order to strengthen the UK's control over "critical infrastructure" amid concerns from the government over high levels of foreign investment and control over these vital assets. Further to this, the government has redefined its approach to future management of large-scale energy infrastructure projects.

"After Hinkley, the British government will take a special share in all future nuclear new build projects. This will ensure that significant stakes cannot be sold without the government's knowledge or consent," the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said.

The "special share" does not necessarily refer to financial shareholdings in new nuclear projects, but instead means the UK government will retain a similar power to control divestment of shares as has been agreed with EdF for Hinkley Point C, Beis said.