当亚洲以外国家很少愿意考虑建造新核能反应堆时，中国是潜在的世界上最大的核能市场。中国政府已建议，将国内当前80亿瓦核能发电量增至2020年的400亿瓦。据位于伦敦的世界核能协会( World Nuclear Association)估计，为达此目标中国每年需建设两座核反应堆，每座造价约为15亿美元。项目规模类似于1980年代由法国建造的核电站规模。每座核反应堆功率为10亿瓦。据官员们称，两座将安装在广东洋江，另两座安装在浙江三门。据信，这两座发电厂建设将于2006年开工建设。
据信法国的核电工程集团，Framatome将会是开发广东核电站的优选者之一，因该公司已在当地提供了4座反应堆。加拿大的核能开发商Candu也曾在浙江三门提供过两座反应堆。美国的西屋公司( Westinghouse)将是竞标者。巴西国营的Nuclebras Equipamentos Pesados也将参加这些开发项目。
China asks for tenders in nuclear expansion
China is to invite international tenders before the end of this year for four new nuclear power reactors as part of a huge nuclear expansion programme designed to reduce dependence on imported fuel and plug growing gaps in electricity generating capacity.
China is the world's biggest potential market for nuclear power at a time when few other countries outside Asia are considering building new reactors. The government has proposed increasing its nuclear capacity from about 8 gigawatts to about 40GW by 2020.
To meet this target would require construction of about two reactors a year, each costing about $1.5bn according to the London-based World Nuclear Association. The scale of development would be similar in size to the large nuclear power construction programme conducted by France in the 1980s.
The next round of development will involve four reactors of 1GW each - two to be installed in a new plant in Yangjiang, Guangdong province, and two in the new Sanmen plant in Zhejiang province - officials said. Construction of both plants is due to start in 2006.
Framatome, the French nuclear engineering group, is expected to be one of the favourites to develop the Guandong site as it has already provided four reactors on an adjacent site. Candu, the Canadian nuclear developer, has similarly provided two reactors at the Sanmen site.
Other potential developers include Westinghouse, the US nuclear engineering group owned by British Nuclear Fuels; and GE of the US, in partnership with Japanese engineering groups. National governments have been campaigning on behalf of their companies for several months, executives said.
"We are holding the tenders in order to get competitive prices. This tender is being conducted according to the principle of 'our market for your technology'," said an executive at China National Nuclear Corporation, a state-owned entity.
"They bring in the technology and then it will help us to develop our own," he added.
China already produces electricity from nine nuclear reactors with another two Russian-built reactors under construction in Jiangsu province, north of Shanghai.
A recent government blueprint foresees China increasing its nuclear power capacity sixfold by 2020. The resultant investment bonanza, which is expected to total more than $30bn, follows an erosion of concerns over the safety, cost and waste disposal associated with nuclear power.
China has been concerned over its growing dependence on imported oil and the air pollution caused by its coal-fired power stations. Nuclear power represents a way of diversifying the mix of China's energy sources and reducing Beijing's reliance on foreign supplies.
In addition to the four reactors to be put out for foreign tender this year, CNNC is to start building four generators using mainly domestic technology next year at two existing nuclear power stations: one at Qinshan in the east coast province of Zhejiang and the other at Ling'ao in the southern province of Guangdong.
One beneficiary of China's appetite may be Brazil, which will help in the construction of 11 nuclear power plants and may do a deal to sell uranium to China, according to a spokeswoman accompanying the delegation of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, in China on Wednesday
Nuclebras Equipamentos Pesados, a Brazilian state-owned company, would take part in the projects. "In the future, the agreement could also include the transfer of Brazil's uranium- enriching technology to China but a commercial deal to sell uranium is what the Chinese want to work on right away," the company said.