Chinese investors could possibly take over a majority stake in the UK’s future nuclear power infrastructure, Chancellor George Osborne has said.
Following the signing of a memorandum between the UK and Beijing earlier this week, the floor is now open for Chinese companies to step up their involvement in the sector.
The first deal, involving the new bloc of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, could be authorised as early as the next week.
"Today is another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China – the world's oldest civil nuclear power and the world's fastest growing civil nuclear power,” George Osborne said during his visit to the Taishan nuclear power station in southern China.
"It is an important potential part of the government's plan for developing the next generation of nuclear power in Britain. It means the potential of more investment and jobs in Britain, and lower long-term energy costs for consumers."
Initially, China is expected to hold only a minority stake in the £14bn Hinkley Point C project, the first nuclear power plant to be built in the UK since 1995. French energy giant EDF, who is about to sign a deal with the UK government as the main contractor working on the project, has been looking for partners to share the costs, negotiating with, among others, Chinese nuclear companies CGN, CNNC and SNPTC .
The Treasury believes the cooperation with China will enable British companies, such as Rolls-Royce, to benefit from China’s multibillion-pound civil nuclear programme.
The UK-based International Nuclear Service will also be sharing expertise in radioactive waste management and train Chinese technicians, starting later this month.