China's Nuclear Plants Going to England?

China’s Nuclear Plants Going to England?

China’s Nuclear Plants Going to England?

China's Nuclear Plants Going to England?

Last week the Chinese government energized its nuclear energy program with three major announcements:

  1. It announced the release of a long-delayed safety plan that lifts the moratorium on new nuclear reactor projects.
  2. It announced approval of an IPO by China National Nuclear Power (CNNP), the country’s largest reactor developer, to raise the equivalent of US $27.3 billion. This is a first of a kind financial offering for CNNP.
  3. It announced a list of seven strategic industry initiatives to counter a sharp down turn in economic growth. One of them is building new nuclear power plants.

The list of nuclear reactors that are under construction and planned represents 77 reactors which will produce 86 Gwe of power. Since 1 Gw will power 1 million Chinese homes, the current construction program will handle the needs of 86,000,000 homes, or 300 million people. Even in China, where they do things on a big scale, this is impressive.

Most of the planned construction will use the CPR-1000 design. It is a 1,080 MW Second Generation design with a digital control room which has an expected operational life of 60 years.

The reactor is expected to be the leading plant design for domestic use. So far 15 units are under construction and 13 more are planned.

The standard construction time for a CPR-1000 is about 4 years, at a cost of $2,000/Kw, or $2 billion each. So an IPO of $27 billion pays for about 13 reactors.

China’s intellectual property agreements with Westinghouse release it from licensing requirements for designs greater than 1,350 MW.

The new safety plan also restarts construction approvals for fuel cycle facilities including uranium enrichment plants and, potentially, a $15 billion spent fuel reprocessing center to be built in collaboration with French firm Areva.

China expects to have 60-70 GWe of nuclear power by 2020 and an additional 30 Gwe under construction at that time. By 2030 it expects to have 300 GWe installed.

China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), a separate entity from state owned firms authorized to build and operate domestic nuclear power plants, is in talks to invest $10 billion in the UK’s Horizon nuclear power project.

Horizon was to have been developed by a consortium of the German firms E.ON and RWE to build up to three reactors in at Wylfa and three more at Oldbury. The two firms backed out in April citing cash flow problems.

The six reactors at the two power station sites could represent $60 billion in new construction and an operational life of 40-60 years. They would also be British Westinghouse designs, for which China has licenses. More significantly, China has construction expertise and money to finance the plants: irresistible attractions for any customer.

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