Chinese firm part-funding UK nuclear ambitions ploughs billions into solar…in France

The Chinese firm partnering with French utility EDF to develop the controversial Hinkley Point C is to also invest more than €1 billion (£722 million) in solar development…in France.

Reuters has reported that China Group Nuclear (CGN) will put its investment in Bordeaux-based renewables installer Inovia Concept Development with the aim of installing around 1GW of solar on rooftops across France.

Wei Lu, chief executive of CGN’s European division CGN-EE, is said to have briefed reporters near Inovia’s headquarters in Grandignan.

"France is a very safe country for investments, the feed-in tariff for solar electricity is very stable," she is reported to have said.

While France’s feed-in tariff is obviously attracting foreign investment, the same cannot be said for the UK’s. The government is still to disclose the results of a consultation on sweeping cuts to the FiT which would see returns fall to 4% at most – almost a third the 11.5% return offered to nuclear generation at the Hinkley facility.

The government has had to counter claims that the FiT reforms and a plethora of other green cuts has significantly dented investment confidence in the UK’s energy market and forced potential investors to put their finance elsewhere.

An energy and climate change select committee inquiry into investment confidence has yet to publish its findings, but has heard evidence from a number of sources – not least the ‘Big Six’ utilities which provided a damning verdict of government policy to date.