U.K. announces first nuclear power plant in a generation

Nigel Cann site director of Hinkley Point C, British Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive of EDF (Electricite de France) and Henri Proglio, CEO and Chairman of EDF, examine site plans for Hinkly C nuclear power station at Hinkley Point on the west coast of England on October 21, 2013.

The British government has given the go-ahead for the U.K.'s first new nuclear power plant in 20 years. The announcement is controversial -- not only because nuclear power still has many critics -- but because two Chinese state-owned companies will be involved in building and running the new facility. 

There's been some disquiet expressed by some commentators, but the British government points out that the Chinese have huge expertise in this field. China is currently building about 30 nuclear power stations, more than any other country at the moment.

The British government is also trumpeting the fact that, for the first time, no British taxpayer money will be spent building a nuclear power plant. It will be financed by the French state-owned power company EDF and the Chinese. 

The British government says it is not concerned about national security. The facility because it will be on British soil and under British control.

In order to get the French and Chinese to cough up the $25 billion to build it, they've been guaranteed a minimum price of energy that's double current energy prices. The British government says that since the plant won't be operating for at least a decade, people won’t have to pay these prices immediately. But energy prices are a hot issue in the U.K. at the moment, and this undoubtedly will cause some resentment among British consumers.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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