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CBBC Insights: Energy | Nuclear industry gears up for exciting year

BritCham / CBBC
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During a meeting on 15 April 2015 chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council approved the construction of the first demonstration units for the design of Hualong One, the domestically developed reactor. Their construction had been approved earlier in the month by the National Development and Reform Commission.
 
CBBC's sector lead for energy, Patrik Li, considers the importance of this development for the UK.
 
 
Ambitious plans to export reactor design
 
The Hualong One reactor (also called ACC-1000) is a combination of China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) ACP-1000 and the China General Nuclear Power Group’s (CGN) ACPR-1000. In late 2014, ACP-1000 successfully passed a security audit undertaken by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The first two units will be built at the Fuqing Power Plant in Fujian Province.
 
This is a big step for China’s ambitious plans to export a domestic reactor design to clients worldwide. CGN is already in talks with several countries, including Pakistan, France, Argentina, Turkey and South Africa, about the adaptation of Hualong One for their domestic power production.
 
An exciting year for UK nuclear
 
The UK Government has long been in talks with CGN and CNNC about the Hinkley Point C project. Over the past 12 months, these talks have intensified and the recent visit of Hergen Haye, the head of new nuclear development at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, showed just how far the working relationship between the two countries has evolved. Mr Haye led a delegation of companies specialising in the civil nuclear supply chain, starting with a visit to Fuqing Power Plant, where the group was given a rare insight into the build-up of the current “generation two plus” reactor design under construction.
 
The delegates’ workshops on Sino-UK collaboration in civil nuclear projects produced a lively discussion and a number of requests from the industry, evolving around removing hurdles for enhanced cooperation as well as giving companies in the supply chain both in the UK and in China real opportunities for contracts. On the Chinese side, concern about tight visa restrictions on long-term projects is top of the agenda of issues to be solved. Companies in the UK supply chain cautioned that while China is advancing fast in nuclear new build, it has to make sure that it is also prepared for the future. The UK has built up a strong reputation in life extension, waste treatment and decommissioning. Both sides agreed that there is a need for stronger cross-border cooperation on commercial as well as academic projects in order to foster a true spirit of teamwork.
 
Witnessing the discussions during the various events, one left with a strong sense that Sino-UK cooperation on civil nuclear has reached a tipping point. While 12 months ago most of the negotiations were based on government interaction on a policy level, this year will see the first commercial activities, and both sides of the supply chain are eager to start signing contracts. This outcome is a testimony to the effectiveness of a strategy that from the start has aligned policy concerns in the highly sensitive area of civil nuclear with the needs of industry and a strong supply chain. 2015 will be an exciting year for the UK nuclear industry.
 
For more information, please contact CBBC's sector lead for energy, environment and infrastructure, Patrik Li: patrik.li@cbbc.org.cn.
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