LONDON — Britain said on Thursday that it would allow Chinese firms to buy stakes in British nuclear power plants and eventually acquire majority holdings.
The agreement, which comes with caveats, opens the way for China’s fast-growing nuclear industry to play a significant role in Britain’s plans to proceed with construction of its first new reactor in nearly two decades.
The project fits into Britain’s overall plan to deliver at least 12 new nuclear reactors at five sites by 2030. It contradicts countries like Germany and Japan that have pulled back from nuclear power since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. Britain has nine aging nuclear plants.
Under an agreement signed by the two countries, British companies like Rolls-Royce and International Nuclear Services could also win a bigger role in China’s nuclear power expansion, according to an e-mail from the British Embassy in Beijing that summarized Mr. Osborne’s statement.
Mr. Osborne’s announcement incited a debate over which type of strategic assets European countries should open to investment from China.
China passed the United States in overall generating capacity in 2011 and now has a total of 1,145 gigawatts, compared with a little more than 1,000 gigawatts in the United States. Nuclear power represents 1.1 percent of China’s electricity generating capacity, compared with nearly 10 percent in the United States. In terms of electricity actually generated, as opposed to capacity, nuclear is about 2 percent of the total in China and 19 percent in the United States.
Full article: Chinese to Invest in British Nuclear Power (NY Times)