UK taxpayers' money used to buy out Chinese firm's stake in nuclear plant
alexey_ds/Getty Creative/CFP
alexey_ds/Getty Creative/CFP

alexey_ds/Getty Creative/CFP

The UK government has given the green light to pay a Chinese energy giant millions in British taxpayers' money to buy out its stake in a new nuclear plant in England. 

Britain confirmed on Tuesday it would pay £700 million ($842 million) to become a 50 percent shareholder in the Sizewell C nuclear project in southeast England.

The China General Nuclear (CGN) held a 20 per cent stake in the nuclear plant, which is set to provide low-carbon power to 6 million homes over more than 50 years. It wasn't clear exactly how much money would go to CGN for their share of the plant.

It's the first state backing of a nuclear project in over 30 years, and comes as part of the UK's plans to help improve energy security. Britain's 50 percent stake will cover the project's development phase, while it seeks new third-party investment to finance the nuclear plant's construction and operation.


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The agreement means CGN will sell its 20 percent stake in the project after some British lawmakers expressed concerns about China's involvement in the country's nuclear industry.

The decision to buy out the Chinese energy giant, investors brought in during former Prime Minister David Cameron's push to attract Chinese investment to the UK, follows the current UK leader Rishi Sunak's announcement that the "golden era" of Sino-British relations was now over.

UK finance minister Jeremy Hunt said the investment marked a milestone in the UK's journey to energy independence.

"Once complete, this mega project will power millions of homes with clean, affordable, home-grown energy for decades to come," he said in a statement.

Energy supply has become a central issue for European governments since the conflict in Ukraine escalated, driving costs dramatically higher. New nuclear production is aimed at reducing Britain's reliance on natural gas, which made up around 45 percent of electricity production last year.

The UK also needs to replace ageing nuclear plants as all but one of its nuclear sites, which generate around 13 percent of the country's electricity, are scheduled to close by 2030.

France energy giants EDF's Hinkley Point C plant in southwest England is expected to come online in 2026, the first new plant in more than 20 years. 

Source(s): Reuters

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