Saudis look at a stake in UK nuclear power

Saudis look at a stake in UK nuclear power

EDF in talks with Saudi utility after Chinese partners up it demands on Hinkley Point project

EDF has held talks with Saudi Arabia's electricity utility company about taking a stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear reactor, The Times has reported.

The French power compnay, which is leading the project to build the UK's first new nuclear power in a generation, wants the state-backed China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to take a 40% stake in the £24.5bn project to develop the UK's first nuclear power station in a generation.

However, according to The Times, CGN and CNNC have demanded that Chinese manufacturers are handed a big slice of the contracts for the project and that EDF hands over another site, at Bradwell in Essex, where they can build their own reactor to their own design.

EDF has rejected these conditions and begun talks with Saudi Electric about taking at least a 10% stake in the scheme, depending on how much the Chinese invest, the Times has reported.

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.

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