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Areva's future pegged to new plants in China

By Lyu Chang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-31 08:21

Areva's future pegged to new plants in China

A file photo taken on April 4, 2011 shows the Tricastin Areva nuclear power plant in the French southeastern town of Pierrelatte.[Photo/Agencies]

French nuclear giant Areva SA is setting its sights on China's nuclear market, as the country, with the world's largest number of reactors under construction, embarks on a major expansion program.

The French firm was hit hard by the global downturn in demand for nuclear energy after the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis in Japan in 2011.

According to its latest annual financial statement, Areva lost around 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) in 2014, compared with a 500 million euro loss the year earlier because of resultant delays in projects around the world, including most recently a landmark reactor planned in Finland.

However, Remy Autebert, its senior executive vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region, told China Daily that China will play an important role in the company's global strategy as a source for future growth.

It is reinforcing its partnership in the country with EDF Group, the French utility firm, said Autebert.

"We also have been fostering strategic alliances with Chinese companies to increase our industrial footprint and diversify our activities worldwide," Autebert said.

He said Asia accounts for just 15 percent of its total revenue, with the biggest growth in China.

"We plan to increase the Asian share to 20 percent and even 30 percent in the long term," he said.

The Paris-based company has launched a restructuring program designed to bring its debts under control with a target to save 1 billion euros each year by the end of 2017 by improving its supply chain, reducing global investment and making production more efficient.

Autebert said the company's global expansion plan makes sense especially as relatively few new nuclear plants are being planned to replace older ones that are being phased out in the West.

"The major part of the growth in China is new nuclear reactors," Autebert said. "It has the largest number of nuclear reactors under construction, and that will continue for some time."

Amid mounting pressure caused by air pollution, the Chinese government is accelerating the approval of new nuclear projects, adding six to eight reactors every year. China has 20 reactors in use and another 28 under construction, according to official data.

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