China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has inked protocols on nuclear power training with Kenya, a big step for China to export technologies and equipment in the overseas market. Chinese experts said that maintaining high safety standards in the local market would be a big concern.
"The cooperation and confidential protocols signed with Kenya have set the precondition for further cooperation on technology and commerce, and it is important for the Hualong One reactor design to step into Africa. It is also a move for China to export a complete set of technologies and program on nuclear power," according to a press release from the CGN on March 28.
The Hualong One reactor, a domestically developed third-generation reactor design, was jointly designed by two nuclear power giants, CGN and China National Nuclear Corporation. It passed inspection by a national expert panel in August 2014, according to a press release of the State Council Information Office.
Hualong One reactors are fully compliant with all safety standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, making them suitable to be sold outside of China. More than 20 countries, including Britain, Argentina, Egypt and Pakistan, have signed agreements with China to adopt Hualong One technology, read the release.
"The low cost and high safety of China's nuclear-power programs makes them popular in many developing countries where infrastructures are incomplete and the cost to use other energy is high," Han Xiaoping, chief analyst at energy website china5e.com, told the Global Times.
Although China's technology has reached a high standard, safety is still a concern when nuclear power programs are launched overseas.
"Social security in some countries may not be as stable as that in China, which could affect the operation of nuclear power plants," said Han, noting that China could launch bases in places as requested by local governments, in an effort to ensure the safe operation of facilities, as well as to train local staffers.
This is not the first time that China's nuclear power cooperation has appeared in the overseas market.
He Yu, Board Chairman of CGN was quoted by the People's Daily as saying that the group has signed a series of protocols with Electricity of France EDF and the UK government and the Hualong One reactor design would be able to enter the UK once it passes the Generic Design Assessment process.
The People's Daily commented in March that "exporting a nuclear power plant is equal to exporting 1 million cars" and the nuclear power program has become "another business card for China's high-end manufacturing industry" after high-speed trains.
"China will be a major player in the nuclear power market, since there are few countries running the business presently and programs in this field are capital intensive and involve complicated technologies," said Lin Boqiang, director of China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.