Sunday, 24 May 2020

UK - China nuclear relations need reset

Letter to The Times sent on 22 May with 3 colleagues:

Your important revelation (“Johnson wants self-sufficiency to end reliance on imports,” May 22; follows his assertion to MPs on Wednesday that he is pursuing “measures to protect our technological base.”

The initiative, “Project Defend,” is aimed at creating a new  national resilience framework, which, The Times reports, will address the current over-reliance on China for “medical and other strategic imports.”
One such strategic import is civil nuclear technology, on which UK is 100 per cent reliant on foreign suppliers for the critical core reactor infrastructure, with the Hinkley C nuclear plant under construction by French state generator, Electricite  de France ( EdF) using French technology, supported by French and Chinese capital investment. 
The next new nuclear plant in line for construction, at Sizewell C in Suffolk, will have 20per cent of its costs paid for by Chinese state company China General Nuclear.
The third new plant, at Bradwell  in Essex, Is planned to entirely built using 100 per cent Chinese/ French designed technology, mostly imported, and backed by 62 per cent Chinese funding.
It would also be operated by a primarily Chinese technical team.

Only smaller parts for these new plants will be sourced from the UK supply chain.
Four  years ago, when Theresa May became Prime Minister, she immediately ordered a strategy’s review of Chinese engagement with the British nuclear  sector., after serious converse were expressed by her policy chief, Nick Timothy.
The green light to Chinese nuclear was given after a secret three month internal review.
It is surely appropriate that “Project Defend “now looks again - in light of disquiet  over serious failures  in Chinese technology controls over Covid19 - at the Chinese  Government  involvement  in the key strategic sector of electricity generation, as the U.K. makes major decisions in the energy transition to achieve ‘zero carbon emissions’  by 2050.
Senior international research fellow
Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
U.K. contact: 07740503518

Professor emeritus ANDREW BLOWERS, Open University; author “The Legacy of Nuclear Power” (2018); chairman of Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG)

PETE ROCHE, energy policy consultant, editor of daily “Nuclear News”, Edinburgh

PEtER WILKINSON, former U.K. director Greenpeace; former member UK Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management(CoRWM)

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