Greenpeace complains that Chinese nuclear players have state backing, which could help solve the issue of financing colossally expensive new nuclear power stations in the UK. But this just means that the money from UK taxpayers will flow to the Chinese government, rather than to France.
France EDF has a lot of state support and as was seen in the financial crisis most of the big banks, car companies will have state bailouts when needed. Japan also provided bailouts in the energy industry. The energy industry worldwide gets over $500 billion per year in various forms of government subsidies. This is for oil, solar, wind, coal, hydro, biofuel and nuclear etc… If you have an energy company and you are not getting state support, then you are incompetent.
Officials from China’s nuclear industry have been in high-level talks with ministers and officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) this week about a plan that could eventually involve up to five different reactors being built at a total cost of £35bn.
Companies from China have already invested in or taken over other infrastructure assets in Britain, such as Thames Water, the port of Felixstowe and the Grangemouth oil refinery. They also own businesses ranging from Weetabix to the Gieves & Hawkes tailoring brand.
The China National Nuclear Power Corporation (CNNPC), which is keen to invest in Britain, has just unveiled plans to raise about £17bn through a domestic share offering.
The first part of the plan involves CNNC and another state-owned firm, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, bidding in two separate groups against each other for a stake in the Horizon consortium, which wants to construct new atomic plants at Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
But sources close to the Chinese say they are also interested in other locations at Bradwell in Essex, Heysham in Lancashire and Hartlepool in County Durham.
EDF has the right of first refusal to operate on these sites but CNNC wants to use an existing technology tie-up with US-based nuclear engineering group Westinghouse to potentially build three more reactors.
The Chinese accept they would need to bring in a UK utility firm to operate the plants and overcome any political or public resistance to their plans.