The State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation yesterday signed an agreement with the US-based Westinghouse Electric Co to build four civilian nuclear reactors in east China.
According to the deal, China will use the AP1000 technology of Westinghouse for third-generation nuclear reactors, two in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province; and two in Haiyang, Shandong Province.
"This is a milestone in the development of third-generation nuclear power technology in the world," said Zhang Guobao, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner.
Last December the US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Ma Kai, minister of the NDRC, signed a MOU for the construction of third-generation nuclear power plants in China. It was initially decided that two would be built in Sanmen, and two in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province.
Westinghouse outbid its competitors France's Areva and Russia's Atomstroiexport after two years of negotiations. Japan's Toshiba bought the company for US$4.16 billion in October of last year.
According to Liu Xingang, chief representative of Westinghouse China, the company owed its success to three factors: advanced technology, competitive pricing, and an offer of all-round technology transfer.
It would be Westinghouse's first major project in China, with an estimated cost of US$8 billion.
As for the two reactors in Yangjiang, media reports earlier said that China would hold talks with Areva for possible contracts; however, Areva declined to comment yesterday.
Areva won its first nuclear reactor contract in China in 1986 and has since built four of the nation's nine reactors. It offered China the European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) technology as a selling point in its bid for the third-generation nuclear power units.
Company Chairwoman Anne Lauvergeon, who accompanied French President Jacques Chirac on a visit to China last year, said the Chinese market was critical for Areva to obtain one of the world's largest nuclear energy markets.
China has become the third-biggest nuclear energy producer in Asia, after Japan and South Korea, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2006. Nuclear power has become the third important method of electricity generation in China after coal-fired power and hydropower.
The nine completed nuclear power generating units now account for about 2.3 percent of the total power output of China.
(China Daily March 2, 2007)