EDF Energy will seek more partners for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station after signing a deal with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to offload 33.5% of the project.
With the deal, the British energy company will retain 66.5%. It intends to divest further without dropping its ownership below 50%.
The China-UK agreement signed on Wednesday in London allows CGN to investment in Hinkley through a new company General Nuclear International (GNI).
Located in Somerset, Hinkley Point C will have two EPR reactors to generate electricity sufficient to meet 7% of the country’s needs.
Total construction costs are estimated to be £18bn with each equity partner funding the project.
Scheduled to be operational in 2025, Hinkley Point C project is said to create 25,000 jobs during construction with 65% of the supply contracts to be awarded to local companies.
UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said: "The UK is open for business and this is a good deal for everyone, Hinkley Point C will continue to meet our robust safety regulations and will power nearly six million households with low-carbon energy, creating over 25,000 jobs and more financial security for working people and their families."
CGN and EDF have also signed agreements to work together for the development of nuclear power plants Sizewell C in Suffolk, and Bradwell B in Essex.
During the development phase of Sizewell C, EDF will hold an 80% share and CGN 20%.
The partners will implement Hualong reactor technology at the Bradwell B plant, which will be 66.5%-owned by EDF.
World Nuclear Association director general Agneta Rising said, "New nuclear construction around the world is at the highest level for 25 years, but we need to see more countries learning from the UK’s example to support nuclear energy among a mix of generation technologies that are fit for the future."
The deal with China is, however, being opposed by environmental groups.
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: "Our grandchildren will one day wonder why their bills are propping up a foreign-owned, outdated, and costly nuclear industry instead of supporting cutting-edge UK firms producing cheap clean energy.
"There’s no other reason for the government to go through with this rotten deal but saving George Osborne’s face."
Image: Hinkley Point site in Somerset. Photo: courtesy of EDF Energy.