China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has announced plans to accelerate its new power station at Bradwell to fill the gap in the nuclear pipeline created by the recent demise of the Moorside project.
Robert Davies, chief operating officer of the Chinese nuclear developer’s UK arm, told the Nuclear 2018 conference yesterday (6 December) that it is bringing forward to 2030 the date when it expects the Suffolk plant to be in commercial operation.
He said that the company is “significantly” accelerating the date when its first HPR 1000 reactor is due to come online in the UK.
Referring to Toshiba’s now defunct Moorside nuclear development outfit, Davies said: “With the demise of NuGen there is a gap in the UK’s nuclear programme, the expected sequence of reactors coming down the line has been interrupted. We are confident that we can close that gap by bringing Bradwell into operation much sooner.”
He said CGN is confident that it can deliver the Bradwell project more quickly thanks to its track record as both the world’s largest nuclear enterprise and biggest builder of nuclear power plants seven of which it currently has under construction.
Davies also hinted that CGN is interested in taking over the Moorside site, which was recently abandoned by Toshiba when it pulled the plug on NuGen.
He said: “To make the UK successful in nuclear, we have to go toward a fleet effect and Moorside is a nice site.”
The CGN executive also used his speech to attempt to assuage security concerns about a Chinese company having a key role in the UK nuclear industry.
He branded fears that China wants to steal British nuclear intellectual property as “demonstrably nonsense”.
“We are building reactors at a scale and rate that the UK can only imagine so what exactly would we steal?
“This debate is often rooted in an outmoded view of the Middle Kingdom that China is playing catch up and western nations have all the knowledge.
“Us Westerners have to be careful not to be naïve and not to be patronising. In civil nuclear as in many areas that is simply not true.
“In the west we should be careful to look to tomorrows for today’s decision because yesterday’s views are incredibly inaccurate and outmoded.”
And Davies reiterated that CGN is prepared to step aside from running plants that it builds in the UK.
He said: “If there is concern about operating power stations, we are happy not to do so. We want to secure our objectives regulatory approval for a reactor and build it in the UK in a market outside China and under the most robust and credible regulatory regime there is.”
The UK should work together with the Chinese on nuclear projects, he said: “If the UK is going to benefit from Chinese investment in low carbon electricity, we need to tackle this together to ensure public trust and politically acceptability. We are ready to do whatever it takes to address this.”