Russia's state-owned nuclear giant Rosatom said on Monday that it hopes to help build inland nuclear power plants in China, and one of its subsidiaries is already holding talks to build fast-breeder reactors in the world's largest energy user.
"So far, most of China's new nuclear construction has been at coastal sites, but the country also needs nuclear plants inland to feed its energy demand," said Kirill Komarov, deputy director-general of Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corp, speaking at a three-day nuclear exhibition called ATOMEXPO in Moscow.
"Russia is one of the few countries with vast experience of building and operating inland nuclear plants, so we hope our expertise will help China bring nuclear to its vast interior," he said.
Russian media reported that last year, the Russian state atomic energy company led a delegation to Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, to assess the feasibility of building two inland nuclear units.
But the company, which is also involved in the Tianwan nuclear site on the coast of eastern Jiangsu province under a partnership with China National Nuclear Corp, has not confirmed the construction sites for inland projects.
Rosatom is building the third and fourth reactors at the Tianwan nuclear complex.
China has been reluctant to start new reactors away from the coast, partly because of the dense population and public safety concerns.
But experts have speculated that several inland plants such as the Taohua River nuclear project in Hunan province, the Xianning nuclear plant in Hubei and the Pengze nuclear plant in Jiangxi, are likely to start construction next year when the ban on inland projects ends.
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, China suspended approval for nuclear plants in order to revise its safety standards. It lifted the ban on new nuclear stations at the end of 2012 and said it would only approve projects proposed for coastal areas during 2015.
Russia is also looking for cooperation in building and operating fast-breeder reactors in China.
"We are currently talking with our Chinese partners about this type of reactor, but the talks are only at the early phase," said Andrey Nekipelov, chief executive officer of Atomenergomash, a subsidiary of Rosatom.
He said that one fast-breeder research reactor using Russian technologies was commissioned in 2013 in China.
Russia's tie-up with China is a reflection of its willingness to shift its focus from the West to the BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which account for 60 percent of the world's new nuclear reactors.
China aims to raise its installed nuclear power capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020 from 20.3 gigawatts the end of 2014.