Zeng steps up domestic equipment research and manufacture

BEIJING, June 20 — Following news China may seek to use its own technology for its next generation of nuclear power plant, Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan announced categories of key equipment as priorities to invigorate the country’s equipment manufacturing sector, official sources said on Tuesday.

Classed as key equipment will be large power generation machinery, petro-chemical equipment, major coal mining machinery, large shipping vessels, high-speed trains, precision high-speed numerically-controlled machine tools, and key equipment for integrated circuitry, the sources said.

Zeng told a national meeting on invigorating the country’s equipment manufacturing sector that the government would launch major equipment manufacturing programs with the key items as top priorities.

He said a package of support programs for the independent development of major equipment would gradually make the country self-sufficient in designing, manufacturing, building and operating such machinery.

Zeng said China would strive to acquire core technology and system integration technology through coordinated research programs.

The government would improve its policies and regulations, including fiscal, scientific and industrial policies, to support research and development of major equipment and products, while creating a better market environment for fair competition.

China’s equipment manufacturing sector had developed slowly with its capability of developing and manufacturing major equipment still weak and unable to meet the needs of social and economic development, he said.

The government had attached great importance to invigorating the equipment manufacturing sector with policies for its revival.

Earlier this week, the Chinese weekly newspaper Economic Observer reported US, French and Russian firms were likely out of the bidding for China’s new generation of nuclear reactors. The paper said China may consider using its own technology for the projects, beginning with the 2x1GW US$2.9 billion (RMB22.7 billion) Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant in Liaoning Province and subsequent nuclear units there, in Hui’an, Fujian Province and Shaoguan, Guangdong Province.

China plans to build as many as 32 more nuclear reactors within the next 15 years supplying 6% of the country’s electricity. For the Hui’an plant, China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), will join with one of the country’s top five power majors, China Huadian Group to develop these plant; as partner, Huadian will participate in decision-making and project management.

Kang said CNNC’s wide experience in building nuclear reactors would combine well with Huadian’s strong expertise in power project management resulting in the partnership being a “win-win” situation for both.

Only two companies, CNNC and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, are authorized to build nuclear plants in China. But other firms such as Huadian and China Power Investment Corp are also working to gain a share in the huge market by taking a stake in partnerships with the two nuclear construction experts.

And in late May, CNNC established a new venture to market its technology to Pakistan and other southeast Asian nations. The new architectural enghineering venture, China Nuclear Engineering Co, will help streamline management and save costs.

“The move will also help the company win more orders in the overseas market, as China Nuclear Engineering is based on an international standard and will participate in bidding for overseas projects,” said Li Xiaoming, president of the Beijing Institute of Nuclear Engineering (BINE) May 30.

Beijing-based China Nuclear, after securing two reactors with a capacity of 300MW each in Pakistan, is negotiating with the Asian nation for a third unit with a capacity of 600MW, Li disclosed.

“In technical terms, the [600MW] project is ready to be built, but it is difficult to predict exactly when we can finalize it,” Li added.

At the same time, China Nuclear, which built seven of China’s 11 reactors either in operation or ready to come on line, is also in talks with other nations in Southeast Asia to build nuclear power plants, Li said.

“As the newly established China Nuclear Engineering grows, we will also participate in bidding for other projects in a wider range of foreign countries,” Li said.

Future project design will be shifted to the new China Nuclear Engineering, and BINE will turn to China Nuclear’s technology planning in a macro sense, Li said.

Previously, China Nuclear had to establish an individual engineering and construction team to build each nuclear power plant, which increased management and operational costs.

“With the integrated China Nuclear Engineering company, we could save costs by about 15% from technology design to project construction,” Li said.

About James Ockenden (300 Articles)
Writer, journalist and sustainability consultant with a passion for clean technology and public health. 25 years covering power and energy markets: former editor of Power Plant Technology, International Power Generation, Asian Electricity, Aircraft Economics, Energy Risk, Asia Risk, Benchmark; writer for South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon's Silkroad, APlus, Veolia's "Planet", Hong Kong Tatler; founder of Blue Skies China. MSocSc in Corporate Environmental Governance, University of Hong Kong; BA & MA degree in Natural Sciences (major in Materials Science & Metallurgy), Cambridge University.
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