Chancellor George Osborne has announced that the UK will guarantee a £2bn deal under which China will invest in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
Mr Osborne, who is in China, said the deal would pave the way for a final investment decision on the delayed project by French energy company EDF.
He said it would also enable greater collaboration between Britain and China on the construction of nuclear plants.
Reports suggest one such reactor could be built at Bradwell in Essex.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told the Financial Times she wanted Beijing to take the lead in developing new nuclear plants in Britain.
She said China was expected to lead the construction of a Beijing-designed nuclear station at the Essex site.
Image: Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station
EDF welcomed news of the government guarantee, but did not say if it put the project back on track.
Earlier this month, EDF admitted the Hinkley project in Somerset, which was intended to allow the plant to generate power by 2023, would be delayed.
In February, the firm announced that it had pushed back its decision on whether to invest in the plant.
It cannot afford the estimated £24.5bn cost of the plant on its own, so has been looking for financial partners to invest, particularly in China. This has proved difficult, which is why the government has had to step in to guarantee part of the cost.
The new power station would be Britain’s first new nuclear plant for 20 years and is expected to provide power for about 60 years.
Speaking in Beijing at a joint news conference with China’s Vice-Premier Ma Kai, Mr Osborne said: “We want the UK to be China’s best partner in the West. [This guarantee] paves the way for Chinese investment in UK nuclear [to help provide] secure, reliable, low carbon electricity for decades to come.”
He also announced a new £50m joint research centre for nuclear energy.
Read more here: BBC News