China General Nuclear says it wants to bring “expertise and experience” to UK

The Chinese nuclear developer part-funding Hinkley Point C has said it wants to be heavily involved in the construction of new nuclear plants in the UK.

Speaking to MPs on the Energy Select Committee, Zhu Minhong, general director of UK nuclear projects at China General Nuclear (CGN), said that in addition to its investment in EDF’s Somerset plant, his firm wants to bring its “expertise and experience” to Hinkley and further nuclear schemes in the UK.

At the same committee session EDF’s UK chief executive Vince de Rivaz was girlled by MPs over when the French client will make a final investment decision on Hinkley.

De Rivaz began his appearance by saying “clearly and categorically” that Hinkley Point C will go ahead, but he refused to commit to a date for when a decision will be made.

Under CGN’s funding deal with EDF, the Chinese nuclear giant has already agreed to help fund Hinkley and to partner on construction of further plants at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. At Bradwell CGN is expected to lead on development and construction itself.

Minhong told MPs the final terms of CGN’s funding deal with EDF for Hinkley is “practically completed” and the firm is “confident” it will go ahead. CGN has a 33% stake in the £18bn project. In China

In China CGN is developing five nuclear power plants and has plans to develop four more. It also operates two completed plants.

Minhong added: “We hope through our participation in [Hinkley] we can learn how to develop nuclear power sites in the UK.”

When de Rivaz was pressed on when EDF will make a final investment decision, he said: “The French [economy minister Emmanuel Macron] said it will be early May, and for me it is a confirmation that a decision will be made very soon. I don’t want to give a precise date.”

It came after Macron told France’s economic affairs committee that a decision on Hinkley was due in May.

Macron said: “Why the start of May? It must be taken before the general assembly [shareholder meeting] of EDF, and it’s important that we give our British partners full visibility of this investment, which is absolutely critical for them… also before the deadlines which are important for them.”