The British government has asked nuclear regulators to embark on the process for approving a Chinese-designed reactor for a proposed plant in the UK.
General Nuclear Services (GNS), an industrial partnership between French utility firm EDF and Chinese utility giant, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), is looking to use the design at a planned new nuclear station in Bradwell, Essex.
A new statement from the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the agency had asked the country's independent nuclear regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, and the Environment Agency, to begin a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the British version of HPR1000, a third-generation nuclear technology to which China has exclusive intellectual property rights.
GDA is a professional process for approving a new nuclear reactor and usually takes about 4 years.
CGN is planning to make several investments in Britain's nuclear power sector, most notably the new Hinkley Point C project in southwest England. The $24 billion project, built by EDF and supported by $8 billion of cash from CGN, gained a green light from the UK government in September last year.
The decision to grant Hinkley is seen by some as a move to address concerns that Prime Minister Theresa May was less receptive to foreign investment than her predecessor David Cameron, particularly investments from China which has plans to invest in the UK's infrastructure.
Britain needs to fill an electricity supply gap over the next decade as many of its ageing nuclear plants are due to close by 2030 and its inefficient coal plants are forced to close by 2025.