China and France strengthen nuclear collaboration

09 December 2013

French nuclear company Areva has signed a series of agreements with Chinese companies during a state visit to China by French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault marking the 30th anniversary of nuclear cooperation between the countries.

 Ayrault in China (CGN)_460
The French and Chinese delegations reminisce over 30 years of cooperation at the Beijing summit (Image: CGN)

Among the agreements signed by Areva are a letter of intent in front-end fuel cycle activities with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on a joint venture to develop a zirconium facility; a contract in a consortium with Siemens to supply instrumentation and control (I&C) systems for Fuqing units 5 and 6; and a partnership agreement with China General Nuclear (CGN) on renewable energy cooperation.

Construction work is due to begin on Fuqing 5 in 2014, with unit 6 following in 2015. Both are Chinese-designed ACP1000 units, and are to be built by CNNC subsidiary China Nuclear Power Engineering. Areva has already supplied or is supplying I&C systems to nine Chinese nuclear power plants, including five units that are already in operation and four units under construction including Fuqing 3 and 4 and the two French-designed EPRs under construction at Taishan.

Zirconium venture

The agreement with CNNC will see the companies study the creation of a joint venture to develop a facility to fabricate and convert zirconium alloy in China. Such a company could produce up to 600 tonnes of zirconium alloy per year for the Chinese market by 2017, Areva says.

The agreement is part of a cooperation which began in 2010, when Areva and CNNC set up a 50/50 joint venture called CAST (CNNC Areva Shanghai Tubing) to produce zirconium alloy cladding tubes for nuclear fuel assemblies.

Thirty years on

The thirtieth anniversary of Sino-French nuclear cooperation was marked during Ayrault's visit with a summit attended by senior representatives of the Chinese and French nuclear industries, and a visit to the construction site of the two EPR reactors being built at Taishan.

Addressing the summit, Ayrault observed the ongoing collaboration that had begun with the construction of China's first nuclear power plants, the French-designed and supplied Daya Bay pressurized water reactors and continued to develop. He pointed to the recent announcement of collaboration between French and Chinese companies to build two EPRs at Hinkley Point in the UK as example of future cooperation between the two countries.

CGN chairman He Yu told the summit that the Chinese and French nuclear industries should "cherish and utilise" the base they had built over three decade of cooperation to enable the two countries to bring cooperation to a "higher level" and work together on nuclear projects on a global scale. CNNC chairman Sun Qin also called for a deepening of the two countries' nuclear cooperation, saying that the Chinese and French nuclear industries should expand cooperation to embrace the entire nuclear fuel chain as well as working to promote new cooperation, which would be "conducive to economic and technological development of both countries and the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News