BEIJING, May 6 (Reuters) - Chinese state nuclear firm China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said on Wednesday it is open to all forms of an alliance with loss-making nuclear group Areva as the French firm restructures.
CNNC, which is involved with Areva in the Hinkley Point C reactor project in Britain, said it had so far made only initial contact with the French group but hoped to boost co-operation.
“Especially as Areva is now in a difficult time, we shall cooperate more, which can either cover the whole industrial chain, or over uranium mining, fuel supplies or reactor building,” CNNC general manager Qian Zhimin told a media briefing.
French media reported this week that Areva has attracted the interest of three Chinese groups, including CNNC, in its technology and parts of its business. Areva recorded a 4.8 billion euro loss for 2014.
While the global nuclear sector is still reeling from the 2011 Fukushima disaster, nuclear expansion by China, the world’s largest power user, appears to be back on track as it tries to reduce reliance on coal.
In an estimated $100 billion programme, Beijing aims to raise its domestic nuclear power capacity to 58 GWs by 2020 from 20.3 GW at the end of 2014, although this would only meet 3 percent of China’s total 2020 electricity needs.
Beijing is also embarking on an ambitious plan to export its locally developed technology as well as its equipment manufacturing capacity, worth potentially hundreds of billions of dollars.
CNNC will start this week to build a Hualong 1 reactor, China’s first home-developed third-generation reactor, on the country’s southeastern coast after the project was approved last month by China’s State Council, or cabinet.
China has already lined up two preliminary deals to supply the Hualong 1 to Pakistan and Argentina. It had signed framework deals for four similar reactors, CNNC executives said on Wednesday, but did not elaborate.
Qian said CNNC also reached a preliminary agreement with European partners to use Hualong technology in Britain, possibly to be built at Bradwell in Essex, near London, but he cautioned the UK regulatory approval could be lengthy and costly.
The export of one Hualong 1 reactor would bring in about 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in revenue, he said, but the figure could rise to 100 billion yuan including fuel supplies and technical support.
CNNC, together with domestic peer China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), is a partner in the project to build two nuclear reactors using Europe-designed EPR technology at Hinkley Point C in southwest England.
$1 = 6.2003 Chinese yuan renminbi Editing by Richard Pullin