Britain opened the door to investment from China in its nuclear sector on Thursday (October 17) as finance minister George Osborne invited Chinese companies to take stakes in new nuclear projects.

During a visit to China, Osborne said the two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation that included roles for British companies in China's nuclear sector.

The UK government said this week it was "extremely close" to a deal with French energy company EDF related to building Britain's first new nuclear power station since 1995.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG) is set to join the project.

"I've come here to this Chinese nuclear power plant site, because I want to see Chinese investment in the British nuclear power industry, first as a partner with others, but I can see the Chinese becoming majority owners of a British nuclear power plant, subject to British safety rules policed by the British," said Osborne. "And in the short term that's good, because it means Chinese money, not British taxpayers' money, to construct a plant like this, and so we can use our money for schools and hospitals. In the long term it'll deliver stable and lower energy bills for families in Britain," Osborne said.

"We're delivering a good deal for the British tax payers and we're going to make sure, of course, that very stringent rules of safety are applied," he added.

Britain aims to renew its fleet of ageing nuclear power plants but needs foreign investment to pay huge upfront costs.

On Thursday a report warned that Britain's shrinking power capacity could lead to blackouts during the winter of next year.

China has 17 nuclear reactors in operation, accounting for about 1 percent of electricity production capacity. Another 28 nuclear plants are under construction.

Presented by Adam Justice