GE wins $1.9 billion order from UK's Hinkley Point nuclear plant

Hinkley Point nuclear power station
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General Electric said it will receive $1.9 billion for a contract to supply steam turbines, generators and other equipment to the Hinkley Point C project, the United Kingdom's first new nuclear power plant in decades.

By approving Hinkley Point on Thursday, the U.K. government cleared the way for GE to begin building two 1,770-megawatt Arabelle steam turbines and generators capable of powering six million homes and supplying about 7 percent of the U.K.'s power generation needs for 60 years, GE said. They will replace older coal-fired plants, GE said.

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May approved the controversial 24 billion (18.17 billion pounds) project on Thursday, after putting it on hold in July.

GE had already been doing early engineering work on the project to build one of the largest nuclear plants in the world.

The U.S. industrial company acquired the contract and capability when it purchased the power assets of France's Alstom last year. Alstom won the competition a few years ago, GE said.

The U.K. decision "confirms our technology leadership and it also confirms that it was not such a bad decision to buy Alstom," Andreas Lusch, chief executive officer of steam power systems at GE Power, said in an interview on Thursday.

New nuclear projects are slowly recovering after a steep drop following the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan. GE is also bidding on nuclear competitions in Finland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and China, Lusch said.

"We are involved in all of those projects in the tendering phase," he said.

The U.K. government's agreement to move ahead with Hinkley Point also established a new U.K. investment policy aimed at giving the country greater control when foreign states are involved in buying stakes in "critical infrastructure" in the future.

The project, being built by French state-controlled utility company EDF, includes an $8 billion investment from Chinese state-backed firm China General Nuclear Power Corp.

EDF said it had agreed with the U.K. government that it would not sell its controlling stake in the project, raising concern among some analysts about EDF's risk profile.