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Project paves way for nuclear exports

2014-05-30 13:11 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Construction of China's first two CAP1400 nuclear reactors is expected to start in Shandong province this year, with commissioning set for 2018, industry sources said.

They added that the project will help pave the way for China to export nuclear power plants and services.

Work is behind schedule, the result of a suspension of the nation's nuclear energy program after the 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station.

State Nuclear Power Technology Corp, one of China's three nuclear giants, said on Thursday the project will help pave the way for exports, a possibility that the company plans to explore this year in conjunction with United States-based nuclear engineering firm Westinghouse Electric Co LLC.

"We have eliminated obstacles to construction, and the next step is to build our credibility and reputation overseas with regard to our reliability and strength in the construction of nuclear power plants," SNPTC Chairman Wang Binghua said during the biannual AP/CAP qualified suppliers symposium in Shanghai.

He said some countries such as the United Kingdom and South Africa have shown "great interest" in the third-generation nuclear technology known as AP1000, which was developed by Westinghouse, as well as its scaled-up version, China's CAP1400.

This could be the year that China takes a crack at the overseas market.

"In partnership with Westinghouse, we are confident of succeeding in nuclear power expansion around the world, supported by a strong government and higher safety standards," he said.

Third-generation nuclear technology relies on passive safety features that don't require action by operators.

China has set a target of 58 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity by 2020, up from 15.69 GW at present.

As Beijing pursues the world's biggest civilian nuclear power expansion, Tim Collier, vice-president and managing director of Westinghouse China, said the company is localizing its four core businesses in China, including nuclear fuel, services and nuclear power plants.

"We will also use our expertise to help our Chinese partners expand on the global stage," he said.

Founded in 2007, SNPTC is the general contractor for the first four AP1000 reactors being built in China. It developed the CAP1400.

In January, the preliminary design for the CAP1400 reactor, which has a standard 1.4 GW of generating capacity, was approved by the top planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.

Zheng Mingguang, head of the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute, said that China has intellectual property rights covering the complete design of the CAP1400, of which 65 percent has been finished.

"About 80 percent of the components for the first two CAP1400 units will be made in China," he said. "That's very important, because it means China can export its own reactors and services, as well as other nuclear equipment."

China is now capable of making six to eight third-generation nuclear reactors a year, according to SNPTC.

The station at Sanmen, Zhejiang, is likely to have the world's first operating AP1000 reactor. The reactor could start generating electricity as early as next year.

Four other AP1000 reactors are being built, all of them in the US: two at the Vogtle site in Georgia and two at the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station site in South Carolina.

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