GE confirms merger value

Nuclear slowly recovering as UK goes ahead with Hinkley Point

General Electric got confirmation of its 2015 French merger Thursday when the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May approved the controversial $23.8 billion (18.17 billion pounds) Hinkley Point C  project, after putting it on hold in July.  

GE told Reuters it will receive $1.9 billion for a contract to supply steam turbines, generators and other equipment to the project, the United Kingdom's first new nuclear power plant in decades. 

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 Corporation. 

The power station is to be built on a headland overlooking the Bristol Channel in southwest England and will include two French-designed reactors. 

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

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 UK 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 a Reuters 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. 

Unlike Hinkley Point, these bids include reactor technology developed at Wilmington's GE Hitachi. 

--Jim Brumm