Thursday 29 September 2016 4:34 pm

EDF and UK government ink Hinkley Point C contract

The UK government and French utility giant EDF signed the key contract for the new £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station today.

They were joined by minority investor China General Nuclear Power at a signing ceremony in London. It was the second attempt to finalise the deal after Prime Minister Theresa May asked for a delay at the 11th hour in July.

Read more: Finnish firm takes Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor-designer Areva to court

Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: "Signing the Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C is a crucial moment in the UK’s first new nuclear power station for a generation and follows new measures put in place by government to strengthen security and ownership."

"Britain needs to upgrade its supplies of energy, and we have always been clear that nuclear power stations like Hinkley play an important part in ensuring our future low-carbon energy security."

EDF's chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz said that the project "will kickstart Britain’s nuclear revival. It has overcome obstacles and challenges which will benefit our next nuclear projects in Britain."

CGN chairman He Yu added: "The signing of these agreements signifies CGN’s commitment to the UK as one of the world’s leading developers and operators of nuclear power."

The UK government gave the £18bn Hinkley project the greenlight earlier this month but with a "revised agreement". It had been temporarily halted due to security concerns stemming from Chinese involvement. 

Read more: S&P downgrades EDF after UK government greenlights Hinkley Point C

CGN intends to take a majority stake in another reactor at Bradwell, in Essex. However, this has fuelled worries over Chinese involvement in UK strategic infrastructure.

The projects will help the UK government meet its target for 14 GW of new nuclear generating capacity by 2025. While Hinkley is unlikely to meet its 2025 start date, the plant will one day deliver seven per cent of the UK's energy.