EDF signs US$26 bil. deal to build new UK nuclear plant

By Roland Jackson, AFP

LONDON — French energy giant EDF said on Monday it had clinched a deal worth 16 billion pounds (US$26 billion) to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant for a generation, with Chinese backing. EDF has agreed to construct two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C, in southwestern England, alongside French nuclear group Areva and Chinese nuclear firms CGNPC and CNNC. The price of shares in Areva jumped by slightly more than 4.0 percent in initial trading in Paris in reaction to the deal. “EDF Group and the UK Government have reached in principle an agreement on the key commercial terms for an investment contract of the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station,” EDF said in a statement. The project is aimed at providing Britain with secure and reliable low-carbon electricity, and will create thousands of jobs, but the deal is likely to face criticism over the high price that will be paid for electricity.

“As part of our plan to help Britain succeed, after months of negotiation, today we have a deal for the first nuclear power station in a generation to be built in Britain,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in the statement. “This deal means 16 billion pounds of investment coming into the country and the creation of 25,000 jobs,” said Cameron, who heads a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. Areva will construct the two EPRs or European Pressurized Reactors, taking a 10-percent stake in the project. EDF Group will have a 45-50 percent stake, while China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) will together take a 30-40 percent stake. Finance minister George Osborne had paved the way for the deal last week, announcing on a visit to Beijing that Chinese firms would be allowed to invest and take majority stakes in civil nuclear projects in Britain. Discussions are meanwhile ongoing with other interested parties over the remaining 15-percent share. Next Generation of Nuclear Power in Britain