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China's nuclear power spawning diverse local equipment makers.

CHINA'S ambitious expansion of nuclear power capacity is driving a booming supply industry, with companies quickly diversifying into the sector. For instance, based in southerly Guangxi province, engineering firm OVM Co has segued into nuclear equipment after making cables and pipes for civil engineering.

Sales manager Zhu Hongyong said the firm has been busy supplying post-tensioning systems to local nuclear power plants. "There are more and more local suppliers [to nuclear power stations], said Zhu, who showed photos to World Nuclear News of the firm's staff on site at the Tianwan (NOTE--SPELLING IS CORRECT) nuclear power plant currently being expanded in Guangdong province.

Not least for cost efficiencies, China's policymakers are keen to wean the country off a dependence on imported equipment. China has 22 reactors under construction: the country is aiming for 70GW of installed nuclear power by 2020, up from the 9GW of nuclear power currently in operation.

China has budgeted US$65 billion for the nuclear build-out, which hinges on replicating the Westinghouse-designed AP1000 reactor and the CPR-1000. The latter is based on technology purchased from France's Areva.

China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute are working on an AP1000-inspired reactor, only a more powerful CAP-1400 (1,400 MW) which is set for construction in 2013. "The export potential of both reactors, and the earnings for China, as the IPR owner, would be significant," suggests Professor Zhongmao Gu (NOTE--SPELLING IS CORRECT), a nuclear equipment specialist at China Institute of Atomic Energy.

Much of the country's nuclear equipment industry is state-driven: much of the research is done by 6,000 staff at the mammoth Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) and a complex web of other institutes and related companies spread across the country.

Possibly the market leader in equipment manufacturing, China First Heavy Industries (YiZhong) in the steel-belt Heilongjiang (NOTE -SPELLING IS CORRECT) province in the north, produces pressure vessels and pressurisers for nuclear plants up to 1080MW. It also makes forgings for steam generators as part of a US$340 million expansion which could see it outputting five reactor sets per year by 2015.

Its smaller peer Harbin Boiler Co has had much more luck supplying generators to coal fired plants at home and abroad but wants to make pressure vessels and steam generators for AP1000 reactors. Parent company Harbin Power Equipment Co Ltd has already supplied turbines and generators to China's four AP1000 reactors.

Chinese companies are in "early stages" of developing equipment, explained Michael Chatlani, vice president for marketing of power systems and simulation systems at Canada-based L3 Communications MAPPS Inc, which installed simulators to train operators at the Ling Ao nuclear power plant in southerly Guangdong province. While conceding that China is developing its own abilities, Chatlani believes his firm can hold an edge over local peers in innovation and "a whole value chain solution."

Surely worth watching is Shandong Nuclear Power Equipment Manufacturing Company (SNPEMC), which supplies pipelines and other equipment for Westinghouse's AP1000 reactors. Through its association with Westinghouse, the firm has the N-stamp standard developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (AMSE), which most of China's equipment manufacturers lack.

Foreign engineering firms in China have also switched focus to nuclear. Japan's Morimatsu Group, which has diverse engineering operations in China, established the Shanghai Morimatsu Pressure Vessel Co., Ltd., to manufacture locally for Chinese nuclear power projects. A company spokesperson said nuclear power equipment would become a more important business "as China is becoming the world's biggest market for nuclear equipment." Beijing-based umbrella group China National Nuclear Corporation has boldly vowed that at least 70% of the equipment for the Changjiang plant (two 650MW reactors) (NOTE--SPELLING IS CORRECT), which the company is overseeing on the southerly island province of Hainan, will be manufactured domestically. That's a tall order. But it's surely a spur to small time local players like OVM to enter the market. Chinese equipment providers are getting better at producing quality equipment, said Zhongmao Gu, "because they're looking at the vast potential of the market."
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Author:Godfrey, Mark
Publication:International News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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