Sizewell and Bradwell nuclear power plants to move a step closer today

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C.

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C. - Credit: Archant

Chinese officials are expected to announce a huge financial investment in British nuclear power today – paving the way for new reactors at Sizewell and Bradwell.

Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss the nuclear projects at a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the second full day of his visit to the UK.

Afterwards an announcement is expected to confirm Chinese investment in the multi-billion pound Hinkley Point C project in Somerset.

If that happens, it will mean the next stage of the process to progress the new Sizewell C twin reactor can begin as EDF Energy officials have said that Hinkley’s future must be settled first.

There has been speculation that China will own a third of the new power station, which was priced at £16billion in 2012, but is set to cost over £24bn when inflation and financing costs are taken into account.

The completion date has slipped from its original 2023, with EDF yet to give a new date for when the reactor will start generating power.

EDF was last night not making any comment ahead of any announcement from the Government about the prospect of Chinese investment.

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As part of the negotiations, the Chinese are expected to enter a deal to build their own power station at Bradwell. Whether any fresh announcement will be made today about the arrangements is not clear.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The UK Government and EDF are continuing to work together to finalise the Hinkley project which will power nearly six million homes and create more than 25,000 jobs. The deal must represent value for money and is subject to approval by ministers.”

Greenpeace said a multi-billion-pound subsidy deal to build a new fleet of three nuclear reactors at Hinkley, Sizewell, and Bradwell will add an estimated £33 a year to the average UK household bill for more than 30 years.

Barbara Stoll, Greenpeace UK energy campaigner, said: “It appears that there is one rule for renewables and one rule for nuclear.

“The Energy Minister was clear that the subsidies for the nuclear industry can last for 30 years, yet she’s expecting the solar sector to be subsidy-free almost immediately. This is despite thousands of jobs and millions in investment being at risk.”