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CGN: 'Too early' to judge Hinkley costs

By Zheng Xin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-07 07:25

Partner EDF says UK project will cost extra $1.9 billion, face 15-month delay

China General Nuclear Power Corp, French energy group EDF's partner in Britain's Hinkley Point nuclear power project, said it is too early to jump to conclusions about any possible delays or cost overruns.

In response to EDF's claim that the project's costs had risen by 1.5 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) and that it faced a 15-month delay, CGN, China's largest nuclear operator, said the project is at the early stage of construction.

Based on the company's previous engineering construction experience, it is too early to say whether the project will cost more money or take more time, the company told China Daily on Thursday.

As a partner, CGN said it has always supported EDF in cost and construction period reduction, while promoting the project with its advantages in nuclear power projects construction.

EDF said on Monday that Hinkley Point could cost an extra 1.5 billion pounds, with an estimated cost up to 19.6 billion pounds following an internal review, and the project could be delayed by up to 15 months, a move that would push the completion date long past 2025.

However, CGN said despite the high cost of the Hinkley project, reasonable returns are expected, providing economic guarantee to its future operation and investors' recouping their capital costs.

Vincent de Rivaz, outgoing head of EDF Energy, also said that the new estimates and potential delay will have "no impact" on the Hinkley Point contract signed between the company and the UK government, according to Financial Times.

The UK is an ideal investment destination with its sound regulation, market mechanism and power demand, said CGN. "Considering its plan to suspend thermal power between 2025 and 2030 and replace it with clean energy, we believe it is a right choice to make the investment in the country," CGN said.

The Hinkley nuclear project will be more competitive in the market by then, compared with other clean energy options like wind and solar power, it added.

CGN signed an agreement on the 18 billion pound Hinkley Point C power plant with French utility EDF and the British government last September, which has been hailed as a gateway to promote Chinese nuclear technology.

Tan Jiansheng, CGN vice-general manager, told China Daily earlier that the company's investment in Britain, including Hinkley Point C in Somerset, Bradwell power station in Essex and a power station at Sizewell in Suffolk, shows that China is shifting from being a nuclear technology importer to an exporter.

The proposed Bradwell project consists of two of China's homegrown Hualong One reactors, each with an output of 1.15 gigawatts.

CGN and EDF have worked together for more than 30 years on nuclear development and construction in China.

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