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Nuke giants submit bids
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-01 09:26

Three global nuclear power competitors, one of which will become a long-time player in China's ambitious nuclear energy strategy, submitted their bids to build four nuclear reactors in the country.

US-based Westinghouse, France's AREVA and Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE) exhibited their technological muscle, while eyeing plans to construct not only four nuclear reactors in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, but also a further two or three reactors every year to 2020.

The Preparatory Office of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation accepted finished bids from the three competitors and an announcement will be made within the year to reveal the successful bidder for the four 1,000-megawatt, pressurized-water nuclear power facilities.

Chen Zhaobo, head of the preparatory office, said his office will organize for leading experts to examine the bids prepared by the three companies within five months.

He said the design, construction and operation of the four reactors will set the example for China's nuclear power blueprint, which aims for nuclear power to account for 4 per cent of power consumption by 2020. The current figure is 1.6 per cent.

To achieve this end, Chen's office, which started work last September under the direct authority of the State Nuclear Power Self-reliance Leading Committee, is to set up a nuclear power corporation, organize tenders, carry out technology transfers and negotiate contracts for nuclear power projects.

"We are trying to bring in cutting-edge technologies for pressured water reactors (PWR) and gradually implement them in future projects," said Chen.

Two of the four units will be located in Yangjiang, South China's Guangdong Province and the other two in Sanmen, East China's Zhejiang Province.

Chen said the reactors will play a role in solving the energy shortages in China's developed regions.

The three companies all told China Daily that their technologies will win over the bidding committee and spoke of the strong political backing from their respective governments.

Avera is famous for its European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), which was jointly developed by France and Germany and has already been put into operation in Finland.

If successful, the US company will export its AP-1000 reactor to China. The Russian competitor only said their technology will be based on their achievements already made in China.

Technology insiders said Westinghouse has the edge in reactor design.

"Their technology is advanced but maybe they are not experienced in construction and operation," said the expert who declined to be named. To overcome this, Westinghouse formed a partnership with Mitsubishi and Bechtel and put together the AP 1000 China project consortium.

But the US Government is yet to make a decision on whether to deregulate nuclear technology exports to China. However, Timothy Collier, a senior Westinghouse official, said his government strongly supports the firm's bid.

Senior AREVA Vice-President Benard Esteve said his company is confident to stand out in the bidding process because "the company has been continuously constructing nuclear reactors in recent years."

"We can export technologies and also engineering experience from our projects worldwide," Benard said.

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