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China Could Become Global Leader In Nuclear Tech

China Could Become Global Leader In Nuclear Tech

China continues to rack up successes in exporting its nuclear power technologies as it seeks to become a leader on the global stage.

Chinese President Xi Jingping wrapped up a state visit to the United Kingdom at the end of October, in which he inked a deal with the UK to help build nuclear reactors in England. The deal will see the China General Nuclear Power Corporation acquire a 33.5 percent stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. The power plant could be the most expensive reactor ever built and although it will be constructed years behind schedule, it could provide 7 percent of electricity for the UK. Related: Why Europe Will Prove Key To Future U.S. LNG Exports

The deal will also allow China to build a few other reactors in the UK, which are likely to be more important to China’s strategic objectives. Aside from any profits that China’s state-owned nuclear company hopes to realize from the projects, one of the key goals is to showcase Chinese-made nuclear technology. China wants to use its reactor design for the projects, which could give it a huge seal of approval when successfully completed. Related: Sweeping Reform Could Trigger A NatGas Boom In This Emerging Market

Even before that project has received a final investment decision – expected by the end of the year – China is shopping its nuclear technology around the world. Chinese media reported on November 17 that China reached an agreement with Argentina that would lead to the construction of a nuclear reactor in the South American nation. The deal could lead to $4.7 billion in nuclear technology exports for China. A second state-owned firm, China National Nuclear Corp. (a joint venture partner in the UK projects) will build the reactor, Argentina’s fourth. The design is similar to the Canada Deuterium Uranium (often known as Candu) technology. Related: UK Banking On NatGas And Nuclear Over Renewables

But China and Argentina are mulling a second reactor, and that one would use a Chinese design called Hualong-1. China hopes this design can eventually compete globally with American reactor designs. For now, nuclear reactor designs are dominated by companies like America’s Westinghouse, France’s Areva and EDF, and the American-Japanese alliance GE-Hitachi. But while nuclear reactor construction has almost dried up entirely in the West, China has plans to build 110 nuclear power plants over the next 15 years. That could allow it to transform into a nuclear technology exporter, and these early deals are meant to pave the way towards that dream.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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