Steve Thomas: China’s civil nuclear industry expanded strongly from 2008 onwards and nearly half of reactor construction starts worldwide since then are accounted for by the Chinese home market. Increasingly China is turning its attention to the export market using its own designs, which it claims emulate the safety standards of the latest designs of the established nuclear reactor vendors. Its export efforts would be greatly strengthened if it were to win an order from an established user of nuclear power and its best opportunity appears to be the UK where it is at the early stages of negotiating the construction of nuclear reactors. The financial collapse of the French nuclear company, Areva, gives it the opportunity to take a stake in the rescued companies giving it access to important fuel cycle technologies and perhaps the large French reactor service market. Its other export prospects in Europe are in Romania and Turkey. There are a number of issues European governments need to examine before committing to allow in Chinese nuclear companies. These include national security concerns about dependence on China for key infrastructure, issues of quality control and regulatory competence and the lack of construction experience with China’s modern reactor designs.
Energy Policy February 2017 read more »