The construction of a Sizewell C power station could be partly financed by Chinese companies – two of which are already set to invest in the first of the UK’s new nuclear plants, at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

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EDF Energy says it is “too early” to discuss who will pay the £14billion bill for constructing a third power station on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast.

However, the likelihood of Chinese investment in Sizewell C has increased as a result of the recent visit to the UK of China’s premier, Li Keqiang .

He returned home with assurances that the Government would not only continue to encourage Chinese investment in nuclear power stations already planned but would also be receptive to that country’s industry designing, owning and running plants in the UK.

China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation are already set to invest in Hinkley Point C, due to be the first of the UK’s new nuclear power stations.

The companies, who together may take a share of between 30% and 40%, have been attracted by the UK Government’s commitment to “new nuclear” and the high guaranteed price for the electricity which will be generated by the Hinkley plant, well above current market rates.

Guaranteed price for electricity from Sizewell C will be slightly lower but still high enough to attract investment from China and elsewhere, although many European investors consider the risk of construction cost over-runs in respect of both projects to be too high.

Shut Down Sizewell Campaign spokesman, Peter Lanyon, said: “We’ll be in danger whoever invests in the project.”

An EDF Energy spokeswoman said: “EDF has worked with its Chinese partners for 30 years, starting with the construction and commissioning of the Daya Bay nuclear power station near Hong Kong.

“Our partners operate to the highest international standards and have considerable expertise in the construction and operation of nuclear power stations. Their sites are open to international inspection as well as being open to local people through visitor centres, just as we have in the UK.”

The spokeswoman said financial arrangements for Sizewell C would follow at a much later date as the company was still gearing up for the second stage of public consultation on its plans – an extra stage added into the process – which EDF is expecting to take place this autumn.

Meanwhile the French Government, which owns EDF Energy, has announced a target to reduce reliance on nuclear energy to 50% of total output by the year 2025.

France is currently 75% dependent on nuclear power.

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