Chinese nuclear giant snaps up three UK wind farms

China’s state-owned nuclear power giant, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), has bought an 80% stake in three UK wind farms in its latest move to enter the European energy market.

Wind-farm operator EDF Energy Renewables announced the sale yesterday. CGN, China’s biggest nuclear power producer, paid $157m (£100m) for the stake, according to The Financial Times.

The farms include 36 turbines combining just under 80 MW of generating capacity.

EDF Energy Renewables keeps a 20% share in the farms and will run them for the new Chinese owner. EDF said the money raised from the sale will be used to invest in more UK renewable projects.

The wind farms are:

  • Green Rigg, an 18 turbine, 36 Megawatt wind farm 22 miles north-west of Newcastle upon Tyne;
  • Rusholme, a 12 turbine, 24.6 Megawatt farm 15 miles south-east of York; and 
  • Glass Moor II, a six turbine, 12.3 Megawatt wind farm six miles south-east of Peterborough.

CGN operates renewable energy schemes at home but this is thought to be its first move into renewables outside China, apart from a small investment in Australia.

The company said it was "proud to supply clean energy to British people".

"CGN is very happy to be able to implement the first investment of renewable energy in the UK," said CGN Europe Energy CEO Wei Lu. "This is a good beginning of concrete cooperation between CGN and EDF in Europe."

The deal comes as CGN and China’s second biggest nuclear firm, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), negotiate with EDF Energy the terms of their stake of between 30% and 40% in the UK’s new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.

Those negotiations are reported to have been complicated by Chinese requests for a bigger role in the plant’s construction plus a significant share of the supply contracts.

CGN and CNNC also want ownership of another UK nuclear site, at Bradwell in Essex, with the aim of building a Chinese-designed reactor.

EDF Energy Renewables is a joint venture between EDF Energy and EDF Energies Nouvelles.

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy CEO, said the deal was part of a strategy to free up cash to develop other renewables projects in the UK.

"CGN made the best offer in a highly competitive auction," he said, "and the deal shows their commitment to the UK and the strong relationship EDF Group has with them.

He sought to reassure people living near the farms by saying: "We have built up close ties with the communities around these sites and we will remain responsible for all aspects of their operation."

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