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UK approval for China-built nuclear reactor to take five years

British nuclear regulators are expected to take five years to complete the approval process for the construction of China’s third-generation “Hualong One” reactor in Britain, the China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) said on Friday.

The British government asked regulators to start the approval process this week for the proposed nuclear station at the Bradwell site in Essex, expected to be one of the first new UK plants in decades.

CGN, along with its partner France’s EDF, is seeking permission from London to use its homegrown Hualong One advanced reactor technology for the project, also known as HPR-1000.

The plant’s “generic design assessment” will be based on unit three of CGN’s Fangchenggang nuclear project in southwest China, which is currently under construction, CGN said in a statement posted on the website of China’s state asset regulator.

EDF is currently building the $24 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor in southwest England, after the project was approved by Britain last September.

CGN agreed to provide a third of the investment in the Hinkley Point C project on the understanding that the move would help it secure future projects in Britain.

China’s first Hualong One unit is scheduled to be completed by 2020 at the Fuqing nuclear project in Fujian province on the southeast coast, and is being built by CGN’s rival, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

The two state-owned reactor builders merged their two separate third-generation designs to create the Hualong 1 after the government urged them to work together on a unified Chinese brand that could compete more effectively in global markets.

China is currently in the middle of a huge reactor-building boom that will see total domestic capacity rise to 58 gigawatts by the end of 2020.

It also aims to become a leading global player in the nuclear sector and has already signed agreements to build reactors abroad, including in Argentina and Romania.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Randy Fabi)

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