China nuclear giants to export home-grown reactors

The country's two largest state-owned operators have teamed up to sell nuclear technology overseas.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), China’s two biggest state-owned nuclear power operators, have launched a joint venture to export third-generation nuclear reactors. 

The Beijing-based tie-up, named Hualong International Nuclear Power Technology Company, is a 50/50 joint venture between CGN and CNNC to develop, mass produce and sell the Hualong One reactor overseas, according to a statement by CGN. 

Zou Yongping from CGN has been appointed as Hualong’s chairman while the role of general manager went to Xu Pengfei from CNNC. 

Hualong One currently has two domestic demonstrative reactors, with its first overseas project under construction in Pakistan. The company has also signed framework agreements with the UK and Argentinian governments to supply them with reactors. 

China plans to build around 30 nuclear power units in the “One Belt One Road” countries by 2030, CNNC chairman Sun Qin told Chinese press sources. 

At the same time, CGN said that China’s total nuclear power generation capacity is expected to hit 120GW to 150GW by 2030. Achieving this target will require the construction of an average of eight to 10 new units every year for the next 15 years. 

However, the country could fall short of the official target of having 58GW of installed capacity in operations by 2020, as only 53GW is scheduled to be completed by the deadline, according to Sun. 

China, which has 30 operational nuclear plants with an aggregate installed capacity of 28.31GW, also has 24 units totalling 26.72GW in capacity under construction, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency. 

Chinese nuclear engineers made a breakthrough yesterday as they installed the key component of China’s first fourth-generation nuclear energy system in a plant in Shandong. 

The pressure vessel of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor was put in place at the Huaneng Shidao Bay nuclear power plant, which is expected to become the world’s first meltdown-proof nuclear energy system. 

The project is developed by state-owned China Huaneng, one of the five largest power utilities in China. Such technology is set to be exported to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

China's nuclear companies have also proven to be in an acquisitive mood recently, with CGN scooping up the energy unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a troubled Malaysian sovereign fund, for MYR9.83 billion ($2.4 billion; $2.1 billion) last November.