Nuclear reactors to China

The United States’ nuclear regulator has said it is likely to approve the export of US-designed reactors to China soon, giving American companies access to a multi-billion-dollar market. Nils Diaz, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told reporters it was reviewing export licenses for Westinghouse’s recently approved “state of the art” AP-1000 reactor. He said he was unaware of any significant objections to exporting the technology to China. Diaz, who tried to sell the safety of the AP-1000 to Chinese officials on his visit, said China would be the first country to put the recently approved reactor to use if it makes a purchase. China currently has nine nuclear reactors, most of which are imported from France or are locally designed. To meet its huge energy needs, the rapidly industrializing country plans to build some 30 nuclear-power plants by 2020, triggering competition among foreign reactor suppliers. While Beijing has not said it wants to buy the US reactor, it has long sought US nuclear power technology. It is estimated that as a result of this vast expansion plan, 80 percent of all new nuclear power plants over the next two decades will be built in China. A move by the US to allow exports will offer China more choices, and likely stronger bargaining power for a reduced price from companies competing for bids. Two new nuclear power projects on its east coast — at Sanmen in Zhejiang province and at Yangjiang in Guangdong province — are in the works.

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