Can we not do anything on our own anymore?
Having closed down perfectly good coal-fired power stations on the orders of Brussels, the British government has hit on a solution to eventually plug the gap, if we don’t freeze to death first. Reports the BBC:
Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the UK will guarantee a £2bn deal under which China will invest in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
Mr Osborne, who is in China, said the deal would pave the way for a final investment decision on the delayed project by French energy company EDF.
He said it would also enable greater collaboration between Britain and China on the construction of nuclear plants.
Reports suggest one such reactor could be built at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told the Financial Times she wanted Beijing to take the lead in developing new nuclear plants in Britain.
She said China was expected to lead the construction of a Beijing-designed nuclear station at the Essex site.
I know I’m a cynic, but I think it’s fair to have a couple of reservations.
One is that the market says “no” if taxpayer money has to guarantee funding. A second is that the operator will be guaranteed an outrageously high price per unit. Financially and economically, it appears barmy, but then politicians will always be relaxed about making others dig deep.
My primary concern, however, lies in China designing and building nuclear power stations in Britain. They’re not known for the highest construction standards over there. Many structures have failed simply through bad design and shoddy construction. The Nuclear Inspectorate will be all over it, but I’m not exactly reassured.
Britain has been in the civil nuclear generation business from the very beginning. We’re the world’s fifth largest economy. By the time it gets built we’ll be the fourth largest. My worry is that we’ll be third by the time it blows up and 150th a day later. We have the expertise and the City is overflowing with investment funds. We can keep all this in house. I know that China is a coming economic and – eventually – geopolitical power, but the Tory leadership seems to have a very unhealthy fixation with Peking.