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Britain and France to take nuclear power to the world
Britain and France are to sign a deal to construct a new generation of nuclear power stations and export the technology around the world in an effort to combat climate change.
The pact is to be announced at the "Arsenal summit" next week when prime ministers Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy will meet at the Emirates stadium in north London.
Britain hopes to take advantage of French expertise to build the power stations that do not rely on fossil fuels. Nearly 79% of France's electricity comes from its highly-developed nuclear power industry. The UK's ageing nuclear plants are ready for decommissioning and supply 20% of its energy needs.
Brown hopes the partnership will create a skilled British labour force who would then work in partnership with France to sell nuclear power stations to other countries over the next 15 years.
Britain this week started the process of licensing four generic reactor designs, including the French-designed Areva run by EDF (Électricté de France).
The Anglo-French plan will be controversial among those who believe that nuclear power is too dangerous and dirty, and that governments should place more emphasis on renewable sources of power as part of an international effort to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2050.
There is a growing view within the energy industry that nuclear power could be the next lucrative market. British Energy, the country's biggest reactor operator, has become the target of a potential £7bn takover bid as the UK tries to guarantee a secure future energy supply without relying on gas imports from Russia as North Sea oil and gas supplies dwindle.