05/16/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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China to export nuclear technology

Beijing plans to build second-generation nuclear power plants in neighbouring countries, including Vietnam, Pakistan, Malaysia and others. At the same time, it wants to increase domestic civilian nuclear production six-fold by 2020. It has tightened security after Fukushima.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China, already the world's largest builder of nuclear power plants, plans to raise its nuclear-generating capacity by more than six-fold by 2020 as well as expand its nuclear business overseas. “Because of the excellent safety record and cost competitiveness, our product has received a lot of interest from other nations,” said  Tian Jashu, deputy chief engineer and nuclear power director at the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC).

Until a few years ago, China had to buy the nuclear technology it needed. Now it can compete with older civilian nuclear power producers like Russia, France, Japan, the United States, South Korea and Canada.

After 13 years of development, the CNNC last year successfully developed a new reactor, which has a power generating capacity of 1 gigawatt that provide enough power for 831,000 households on the mainland, Tian said. And it is at least 5 per cent more efficient compared to the original French technology, with a lifespan of 60 years.

Thus, the company will be able to build its own second-generation power plants. In the meantime, it is already building facilities thanks to cooperation with leading French company Areya, which has supplied the necessary technology.

China wants to focus on exporting its nuclear technology to its neighbours, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Pakistan (in the latter, it has already built two 0.3GW reactors).

China is also building reactors using so-called third-generation technology from France and the United States, which has better safety features than second-generation technology.

Beijing’s approach is counter to the prevailing concern over nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster. The damaged Japanese plant was a second generation facility. Experts note that a third-generation facility would not have led to the current problem even if it had been hit by a tsunami.

India and many nations in Southeast Asia and the Middle East appear to have no reservations about the use of nuclear technology, viewed as both non-polluting and cheap.

However, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, China has ordered tighter controls on its own nuclear sites, both those already in operation and those under contruction.

Meanwhile, it plans to raise its nuclear power generating capacity to at least 70GW by 2020 from 10.8GW at the end of last year. Plants capable of generating 38GW are already under construction or have been approved.

To reach its target, Beijing will spend 70 billion yuan a year, China Nuclear Energy Association vice secretary-general Xu Yuming said.

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