The Government has confirmed that it will purchase a £20billion “special share” in the Sizewell C nuclear plant, in a bid to remove China as a major player in the UK’s nuclear industry. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK has been forced to scrutinise its own energy security for potential risks like the one faced by Germany over Russian gas. As Britain invests further in nuclear energy, ministers have expressed concern about the role Chinese energy companies are playing in developing several of the UK’s nuclear reactors, including Sizewell C.
Now, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is set to give the UK a 20 percent stake in the proposed Suffolk project.
The Government is also set to demand similar national security powers in all future nuclear plants built in Britain under a new funding model, the Telegraph reports.
Through this new funding model, the UK hopes to end the use of Chinese state-backed energy companies, like China General Nuclear (CGN), which has significant investments in several nuclear power stations in the UK.
As part of a 2015 nuclear deal between the UK and China, CGN is currently developing the Hinkley plant in Somerset, Bradwell B, and Sizewell C in Somerset.
The Bradwell reactor has already secured UK regulatory approval for the Chinese reactor design that was proposed by EDF and CGN, which own 33.5 percent and 66.5 percent of the project respectively.
According to a document published by the Government on Tuesday, this “special share” in Sizewell C will be “complementary” to the takeover rules that allow them to block hostile states from acquiring nuclear projects.
The documents said: “The rights attached to the special share are subject to approval by the Secretary of State but will likely be limited to protecting national security interests with respect to the proposed nuclear project.”
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The source said: “The deal is now that if a nuclear project is funded through the RAB model, the Government retains the right to insist on a special share in the company.
“It could mean ministers scrutinise outside investment above a certain threshold, or take any appropriate action in the interests of national security.”