EDF, the French company developing the UK’s first new nuclear power station in two decades with Chinese investors, has held talks with Saudi Arabia’s electricity utility company about taking a stake in the project, according to reports.
The news comes amid reports from The Times newspaper that the two Chinese nuclear power firms have upped their demands concerning the new project, Hinkley C power station (pictured).
The UK benefits from the fact we take a fairly relaxed view when it comes to outside investment– Tim Yeo, chairman of the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee
State-backed China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), who together will take a 30-40% stake in Hinkley C, want more equipment for Hinkley to be manufactured by Chinese companies, reported The Times.
The two Chinese firms are also understood to want to build a reactor of Chinese design at Bradwell, Essex, site of an old nuclear power station being decommissioned.
According to The Times, EDF has rejected these conditions and has begun talks with Saudi Electric about taking at least a 10% stake in the Hinkley scheme.
CGN and CNNC will team up to take a stake of between 30% and 40% in Hinkley, while Areva, with its EPR reactors, is expected to take a 10% stake. EDF will own 40-50%, and says discussions are underway with investors to fill the potential 15% gap – which is where the Saudis could come in.
EDF hopes to make a final decision by next January or February.
The Times said the Saudi national utility company hopes that its backing will help to secure French investment for its own domestic nuclear new-build programme to generate electricity, produce desalinated water and reduce the gulf state’s reliance on oil.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee, told The Times that he welcomed the potential Saudi investment.
"It’s good news that other people are looking to invest," he said.
"The UK benefits from the fact we take a fairly relaxed view when it comes to outside investment."
The Hinkley Point project moved a step closer to getting off the ground last month after the European Commission gave its approval to a deal between EDF and the UK government which sees the government guaranteeing a minimum price to be paid for the electricity generated at the plant.