Three firms vie to design, build two reactors
Three companies are in the running to design and build two nuclear reactors, including four units, in China.
US-based Westinghouse, France's Areva and Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE) are competing for a contract to design and build the four 1,000-megawatt pressurized-water nuclear power facilities.
The winner will be announced at the end of February.
Two of the four units will be located in Sanmen, East China's Zhejiang Province and the other two in Yangjiang, South China's Guangdong Province.
Liu Xingang, chief representative of Westinghouse China said a recent US move to transfer nuclear technology to China may help US-based Westinghouse win the bid.
"Our confidence is based on the cutting-edge technology of our equipment and the government's deregulation of technology exports," said Liu.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will soon approve exports of the AP-1000 reactor to China, he said.
According to earlier reports, NRC Chairman Nils Diaz also suggested the US impose no restrictions on exports of these reactors while expressing optimism about the prospect of nuclear technology co-operation between the US and China.
French company Areva and Russia's ASE are competitive rivals. Areva has a long-standing relationship with China and is peddling its next-generation reactor built by its Framatome subsidiary.
De Bourayne, president of AREVA China said his company has proposed China use the PWR-EPR, which was developed in the last 10 years through close co-operation of French and German nuclear industries.
He said the EPR has been chosen in Finland, where contracts were signed this month.
"Based on the facts, we believe that China will be very interested in the technology," said the president, adding that France has built up a solid co-operation base with the Chinese nuclear industry through technology transfers since 1991, nuclear island design technology transfers since 1992 and equipment localization since 1996.
ASE's confidence was based on the close relationship between Russia and China.
The company has been involved in the construction of China's two nuclear power units, which are expected to start operating next year.
"Also our technologies have been already proven to be safe and cutting-edge," said Liu Shidiao, consultant of ASE's Beijing Office.
He also said Russia, as a world nuclear power giant, has already built 20 large-scale nuclear power stations at home and abroad.
Insiders said the bidding will mark a milestone for Westinghouse, which has had a presence in China for two decades but not won much of a share in the nuclear power market. The US restrictions on technology exports were said to be partly responsible for the company's lacklustre performance in China.
Although China and the United States signed an agreement on nuclear
technology transfers in 1998, the United States has been holding back on exports
of high-tech products to China.