Massive growth in nuclear generation planned over coming decade

An ambitious plan to more than double China’s nuclear capacity is set to commence with companies tendering for contracts to build four new 1000 MW reactors. Companies bidding include Westinghouse, Areva and Russia’s AtomStroyExport The two $2 billion contracts will be for two reactors in Sanmen in the eastern Zhejiang Province and in Yangjiang in the southern Guangdong Province.

In a fillip for Westinghouse and its partner Bechtel, the US Export-Import Bank has already given preliminary approval to some $5 billion in loans for the project. Final committments are approved by vote of the Ex-Im Bank board of directors, if the financing plan meets other technical, legal and financial requirements. This follows last year’s decision to allow export of civil nuclear technologies to China including the Westinghouse AP-1,000 pressurised water reactor.

China plans to increase its nuclear capacity from 8.7 GW to 36 GW by 2020 when about 4% of China’s total installed capacity is expected to be nuclear from just under 2% currently. The country has nine reactors in operation and two units under construction, with the first reactor at the Russian-backed Tianwan plant in ready for physical launch once official permission is granted. The central government gave the go ahead for construction of the new reactors last year, and while China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp will accept and review the bids, no timetable for concluding the contracts has been given.

Meanwhile, the eastern Shandong Province is moving ahead with three nuclear power projects, which are expected to begin commercial operations by 2010. The three projects are the Haiyang station in Yantai, and Rushan and Rongcheng stations in Weihai. Each plant is expected to have a capacity of 4 – 6 GW and is likely to require an investment of yuan 40 billion – yuan 80 billion ($4.8 billion – $9.6 billion) each.

All three projects are still waiting for the final approval from the central government. In addition, a yuan 40 billion ($4.8 billion) 4 GW nuclear plant is planned for the northeastern province of Jilin.