China’s state-owned nuclear companies are competing against each other in the export market despite government efforts to harmonize their overseas sales programs.
The State Council, the country’s cabinet, has formally approved the first Hualong 1 nuclear reactor, to be built in the southeastern province of Fujian.
Successfully constructing the Hualong 1 will allow China to join the elite club of countries exporting reactors, the Financial Times reported.
China National Nuclear Corp. already has agreements to build six reactors in Pakistan but a framework agreement to build a Hualong 1 reactor in Argentina would be the first overseas sale of China’s homegrown nuclear technology.
“This project will change the environment for our indigenous reactors and will promote the national strategy of ‘going out’ with the nuclear industry,” the newspaper quoted CNNC vice general manager Xing Ji as saying.
To promote the national interest, Beijing ordered the country’s two top nuclear companies to work together on international projects.
Hualong 1 is supposed to represent combined design efforts by CNNC and its chief rival China General Nuclear Power Corp.
But its booth at a recent nuclear exhibition in Beijing made it clear that the Hualong 1 reactor CNNC is building in Fujian is its own design.
CGN, on the other hand, is marketing a different version of Hualong 1, which it hopes to build at the Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex, England.
“Broadly speaking, they are the same. But there are some differences,” says Xian Chunyu, deputy president of China Nuclear Power Design Co., which is affiliated with CGN.
One of the biggest differences is that they have different supply chains which are not interchangeable, FT said.
A foreign utility selecting a Hualong 1 reactor will have to choose between CNNC or CGN, despite the appearance of a single unified design.
China is constructing 26 reactors as part of its program to develop 58 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity by 2020. At least eight of the reactors are targeted for completion this year.
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