China has made a case for its domestically-developed, fourth-generation reactor as the answer for developing countries’ concerns regarding costs and safety

As the rest of the world reconsiders the use of nuclear energy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, China has made a case for its new, domestically-developed, fourth-generation reactor as the answer for developing countries’ concerns regarding costs and safety.

The State-run China Nuclear Engineering Group Corporation (CNEC), closely involved in the design and construction of many of the 17 nuclear reactors in operation, on Sunday, presented designs of its new fourth-generation High Temperature Reactor (HTR) and High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR), on the sidelines of the first China-Arab States trade exposition which opened in this western Chinese city.

With global interest in nuclear power waning following Fukushima, the CNEC is hoping that success with its reactor will help rekindle interest abroad.

The CNEC has been charged by the State Council, or Cabinet, with expanding the nuclear industry’s reach overseas. The company was behind the Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 reactors in Pakistan. The deals triggered controversy because they were agreed to after China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Since those deals, the CNEC has struggled to make headway overseas following the Fukushima incident and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) concerns over some models, such as the Westinghouse-inspired 1000 MW reactors, over which China and Pakistan have had recent talks.

The company is banking on the HTR design as the answer to both concerns. “The HTR reactor, which is fourth-generation, is one for which we have complete IPR so we can freely export this reactor,” Zhang Wei, CNEC’s Chief Engineer, told The Hindu.

Export

Mr. Zhang also said the CNEC had initiated talks with countries ranging from South Africa and the United Arab Emirates to Cambodia, to export its reactors.

Mr. Zhang said the HTR was also much safer, with its inherent structural design ruling out a recurrence of a Fukushima-type incident. In October, China gave the green light to restarting construction of reactors after a more than a year-long suspension, during which a safety review was conducted in the wake of Fukushima .

China is building 28 reactors – more than in any other country — with most of the projects entirely designed and constructed domestically, using technology adapted from the U.S., France and Russia.

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