• Kenya would be one of the first countries to import reactor
  • Hualong One reactor developed by Chinese nuclear companies

China is a step closer to exporting its first domestically designed and developed nuclear reactor after state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp. signed an agreement with the Kenyan government on the technology.

The memorandum of understanding, reached on Sept. 7 and announced Tuesday, covers development of China’s HPR1000 reactor in the African nation. The agreement makes Kenya one of the first countries outside China to agree to build the HPR1000, which is also known as the Hualong One. The reactor was developed by CGN and China National Nuclear Power Co., China’s two largest nuclear power companies.

“If built successfully in Africa, then the whole process of nuclear technology exports will speed up,” Steve Wong, an analyst at China Galaxy Intl Financial Holdings, said by phone. “It’s like a pilot project. Other countries will see if the performance is good, and more will follow.”

In order to export the technology abroad, demonstration of the equipment is necessary, Premier Li Keqiang said during a June 15 visit to the Beijing office of China Nuclear Power Engineering Company, a unit of CGN. China plans to export as many as eight domestically produced nuclear reactors by 2020, the China Daily reported in June, citing Li Xiaoming, assistant general manager at CNNC.

The Hualong One is about 30 percent cheaper to construct than the average U.S. nuclear reactor, according to Wong.

Of the 67 reactors currently under construction globally, more than half are in Asia, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. China is building 24 reactors, the most of any nation.

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