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作者: 来源: 日期:2016-09-18 11:16:36

Leader_An amber light for China in UK nuclear power





After unexpectedly announcing a review at the end of July, the UK government has given the go-ahead for construction of the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. This is the most important strategic decision since Theresa May became prime minister — one that has a bearing not only on the UK’s future competitiveness, but on its relations with China and France.

7月底出人意料地宣布重新评估后,英国政府已经拍板建设欣克利角(Hinkley Point)核电站。这是特里萨•梅(Theresa May)出任首相以来作出的最重要的战略决定,这个决定不仅关系到英国的未来竞争力,也关系到其与中国和法国的关系。广州英语翻译公司。


Regrettably, Mrs May has eschewed the chance to amend the commercial terms of the project, to be built at the gargantuan cost of £18bn by EDF, the French utility, with co-investment from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Guangdong Nuclear Power. She has, though, announced a plan for new rules governing foreign investment in critical infrastructure. The impact of these on the nuclear programme is uncertain. If sufficiently stringent they could yet put the Hinkley project in doubt.



When it was first conceived a decade ago as part of plans to kick-start a nuclear “renaissance” as old coal-fired plants become obsolete, the Hinkley project was a more attractive proposition. Expected to be competitive with other power sources, it would also help Britain meet ever tougher emissions targets. A decade on — and at a time when the costs of wind power, solar energy and natural gas have all been falling — the price built into the deal is nearly four times higher. The French utility will receive more than double the present UK wholesale power price, indexed and guaranteed for 35 years. Questions therefore remain as to whether the project marries Britain’s energy needs with emission reduction targets in the most cost-effective way.



Mrs May ordered the review to assess concerns over the cost, the unproven technology involved and the role of Chinese investors in a plant that is due to meet about 7 per cent of domestic electricity demand. Her amendments all focus on national security. As part of a new, as yet unclear, legal framework for foreign investment in critical infrastructure, the government will in future hold a golden share in all nuclear power projects. Unexceptionally, this ensures that significant stakes cannot be sold without UK consent.



Of more concern potentially to Beijing is the additional security scrutiny to which the government plans to subject future nuclear projects. Again, the principle is sound from a UK perspective, but the details remain obscure.



China’s objective in putting £6bn into Hinkley Point was to be able to build its own reactors in the UK. During the “golden era” of Sino-UK relations proclaimed by the previous government of David Cameron when President Xi Jinping visited London last year, Beijing envisaged Hinkley as a springboard for its nuclear industry seeking other deals worldwide.

中方对欣克利角投资60亿英镑的目标是将来能够在英国牵头承建核反应堆。在前首相戴维•卡梅伦(David Cameron)领导的英国政府在中国国家主席习近平去年访问伦敦时宣告的中英关系“黄金时代”期间,北京方面把欣克利设想成一个跳板,让中国核工业在世界各地角逐其它项目。


Both EDF and the Chinese have welcomed Mrs May’s decision to go ahead with the project. At least publicly, Beijing sees no obstacle towards its other planned investments with EDF. However, uncertainty over the long-delayed project has survived the review in important respects. Should additional regulatory scrutiny get in the way of Beijing’s other nuclear ambitions in the UK, notably a planned power plant at Bradwell, it could jeopardise the rationale for Chinese investment at Hinkley Point. EDF has warned that, without Chinese money, it may not proceed with the Hinkley scheme.



The last word on Hinkley may not have been written. Mrs May has addressed the concerns of security chiefs with a compromise that avoids an outright block. But she has deferred greater clarity on the extent to which she sees China playing a strategic role as an investor in the UK.