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Nuclear Energy Hurdle
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The new State Nuclear Power Technology Co, inaugurated yesterday, will help China's strategy of developing nuclear power technology.


It is also a sign that the country is building a market place with multiple players to better meet its soaring energy demands in the coming decades.


China has tried to build nuclear power projects since the 1970s. But since nuclear power has not been needed for China's energy supply until recently, Chinese engineers have not concentrated on developing core technology and equipment.


As the Chinese economy soars, its demand for power has increased dramatically, moving nuclear power to the top of the energy agenda.


China's ambitious plans call for 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power capacity by 2020.


China currently has only 9,000 megawatts of installed nuclear power capacity. To meet the 2020 target, international cooperation is indispensable.


The new State company will cooperate with US-based Westinghouse Electric to build four pressurized water reactors. Hopefully it will master the technology involved in the cooperation, part of the agreement.


More such international cooperation would help Chinese companies tap their capabilities in developing their own core technology for utilizing clean and efficient nuclear energy.


Introduction of technology aside, the new State company adds an additional player to the largely monopolized energy market.


This will be crucial for China to meet its 2020 nuclear power target.


The 40,000 megawatt goal means the addition of at least two 1,000-megawatt nuclear generators each year.


It is a demanding task that may go beyond the capacity of the China National Nuclear Co and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co, the conglomerates that dominate China's nuclear power construction and operation.


Although China Power Investment Co and Huaneng Group have been allowed into the nuclear power construction and research field, more market players will add vitality to the sector.


(China Daily May 23, 2007)


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