UPDATE 1-China-designed UK nuclear reactor moves a step closer

(Updates throughout)

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The first Chinese-designed atomic reactor scheduled to be built in Britain has passed three out of four assessment stages, the nuclear regulator said on Thursday.

General Nuclear System Limited (GNSL), an industrial partnership between China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) IPO-CGNP.HK and French utility EDF, hope to use the reactor design at a plant due to be built in Essex, eastern England.

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation said it had completed the third stage of the assessment and the HPR 1000 reactor design will now move to the fourth and final stage of its Generic Design Assessment (GDA).

“Moving into Step 4... brings closer the deployment of a fleet of new power stations that will play a major role in supporting the Government’s target of net zero by 2050.” said Zhu Minhong, Managing Director of GNSL.

Britain last year became the first G7 country to commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 which will require a big increase in low-carbon power generation such as renewables or nuclear.

CGN intends to make a number of investments in Britain’s nuclear power sector, notably the new Hinkley Point C project in southwest England which will be Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades.

CGN holds a 33.5% stake in the Hinkley C project which will use majority shareholder and developer EDF’s reactor technology.

The GDA process, which started at the beginning of 2017, is expected to take a number of years to complete.

“Although progress so far is encouraging, a lot of work by the Requesting Party is still required. We will continue to rigorously assess safety and security submissions throughout Step 4 of GDA,” the ONR said.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Edmund Blair and Elaine Hardcastle