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Feb. 12 (NBD) -- The restructuring of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group Corporation Limited has commenced, and the latter will be taken over by CNNC entirely, according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. 

Pan Jianming, board secretary and spokesperson for CNNC, said that through the restructuring, they can complement each other's advantages and form a comprehensive nuclear industrial group with a complete industry chain, thereby enhancing their core competencies and speeding up their expansion in the global nuclear power industry. 

Xu Yuming, deputy director of the expert committee of the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA), said that there will be numerous opportunities in the nuclear power industry over the next three to four decades, and Chinese firms should seize the chance to gain a firm foothold in international markets. 

Rising demand for new nuclear power units worldwide 

The global nuclear power industry suffered a slowdown following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, but has been seeing a recovery in recent years. 

Xu told NBD that a batch of nuclear power units in Europe and the U.S. is going to reach the end of their lifecycle, which will give Chinese nuclear power firms a great opportunity to go global. 

Some countries, including the UK, are putting the construction of new nuclear power projects on the agenda, so as to replace the ageing nuclear power units and reduce carbon emissions. 

For example, the UK currently has eight nuclear power stations, which produce 20 percent of the country's electricity. These stations will reach the end of their operating life by 2030. Meanwhile, the country will shut down all thermal power plants around 2025. 

Data from the World Energy Association shows that there are currently 447 operable civil nuclear power nuclear reactors around the world, with a further 58 under construction. In addition, more than 500 nuclear power units are planned to be built worldwide, expected to create a market worth trillions of yuan. 

Huge need for electricity along the Belt and Road countries 

Huang Yibin, director for the energy and chemical industry unit of CITIC Securities, stated that Chinese nuclear power companies might be able to achieve greater success in Southeast Asia, especially in countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, as compared to their achievements in the UK. 

Because of the fast economic development, countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and Pakistan show a rapidly-growing demand for electricity, said Yang Hanxin, chief scientist of Ocean Nuclear, a private-funded nuclear energy financial service provider. 

Given their energy balance policies, these countries won't limit themselves to only one energy option. The worldwide call for clean energy and unstable nature of some forms of renewable energies make nuclear power a better choice. This creates unprecedented opportunities for Chinese nuclear power enterprises. 

Francois Morin, China director of the World Nuclear Association, apart from China, India and Southeast Asian countries will see the fastest growth in nuclear power demand between 2016 and 2040, with the average growth to surpass 100 percent. Nuclear technologies and infrastructure are relatively weak in these regions, representing huge growth potentials. 

In addition to state-owned enterprises, Chinese private firms are ramping up their efforts to grab a share of the global nuclear power market.

Ocean Nuclear has been shifting its focus to the global nuclear power investment area. The company's Chairman Qiu Zhen said the upgrading, lifecycle extension, and reconstruction of nuclear power projects as well as new demand from countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative all require the support of the financial industry. 

It is great for Chinese private firms to invest in the nuclear power projects worldwide, because they have a higher level of flexibility, which is helpful to increase the efficiency of the nuclear industry, CNEA's Xu stated.  

 

Email: lansuying@nbd.com.cn