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China and France extend nuclear cooperation

Updated: 2015-07-19 14:52
By Tuo Yannan (China Daily Europe)

New projects will have positive impact on global nuclear market

Sino-French nuclear cooperation has a history going back more than 30 years, to the construction of the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong province.

During Premier Li Keqiang's visit to France in July, the two countries extended their partnership to three new power projects in the UK.

On June 30, the Chinese and French governments signed a joint statement on deepening civil nuclear energy cooperation.

Chinese companies, led by China General Nuclear Power Corp, will cooperate with French firms EDF and Areva in the construction of three nuclear power projects in UK.

The statement says China and France will work on Hinkley Point C. EDF plans to build two reactors at Hinkley Point, on the northern Somerset coast, next to the existing Hinkley Point A station.

Another project is Sizewell C. The two countries will jointly work on the pre-development phase.

EDF will also support and participate in another joint nuclear power station project in the UK, and conduct applicability design modifications based on the Chinese nuclear technology of the Hualong One reactor.

In April 2013, in the presence of President Xi Jinping and French President Francois Hollande, CGN signed a joint statement with the French firms on long-term cooperation, including the research and development of advanced reactors, nuclear fuel processing, and nuclear power plant maintenance.

EDF is the world's biggest operator of nuclear power. Its subsidiary - EDF Energy - has 15 operational nuclear power units in the UK, while CGN is China's largest nuclear power operator and the world's largest nuclear power construction firm.

The joint statement appealed to both Chinese and French enterprises to explore deeper cooperation in the fields of nuclear safety design, new third-generation reactors, and the construction of nuclear power stations.

According to the statement, the nuclear power companies of these countries will draw on the experience of project cooperation, which will have profound significance for developing the future international market of nuclear power.

The new partnership will not only create opportunities for the global nuclear industry, but will also stimulate the economic development of France, the UK and China.

According to the World Nuclear Association in June, France derives about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, due to a long-standing policy based on energy security.

The association also reported that France is a major export of reactors, fuel products and services.

France has 58 nuclear reactors operated by EDF, with a total capacity of 63.2 gWe, supplying 416 billion kWh in 2014. China has 26 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction.

France and China say that cooperating will meet the safety requirements of the UK's independent nuclear regulatory authority, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, and make Chinese designs competitive.

Aiming to explore third-party markets, China and France will establish a partnership to develop medium- and high-level reactors. The statement says this cooperation will be based on the principal of mutual benefits.

According to the statement, CGN signed a tripartite agreement on long-term cooperation in the nuclear reactor field with EDF and Areva.

The cooperation includes joint technology research and development, global market assessment, and creation of a co-developed nuclear power plant business model.

There is also a statement and memorandum of understanding between the two French companies and China National Nuclear Corp. Under the guidance of the China-France joint statement, the aim is to cooperate through the whole industry chain and form a long-term partnership under the new global situation of nuclear power development.

The two sides are hoping specialist organizations such as the Institute for Standardization of Nuclear Industry, and the Suzhou Nuclear Power Research Institute will strengthen and intensify international cooperation.

The statement encourages and promotes mutual acceptance of both parties' nuclear power standards.

Tang Shuyue contributed to the story.

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