Chinese Nuclear Firms Seen by U.S. Winning Deals With Financing

  • U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz comments on nuclear suppliers
  • Nations exporting atomic technology should share information

Project financing offered by state-backed nuclear power companies from China and Russia gives them an advantage over U.S. rivals in the competition for global technology deals, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview on Tuesday in Tokyo.

“Chinese and Russians can finance international projects in ways that are different than what American companies can do,” Moniz said. “I expect they are certainly going to get some market share.”

State-owned companies including China General Nuclear Power Corp. and Russia’s Rosatom Corp. can rely on political and financial support to develop projects in countries seeking cleaner and cheaper power generation. While upfront construction costs for a nuclear plant can be multiple-times that of a gas-fired facility, they are generally cheaper to run over their lifetime, according to a report last year from the International Energy Agency.

Shared Interest

CGN, which along with China National Nuclear Corp. developed the country’s first domestically designed reactor, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenyan government in September to build its Hualong One atomic plant there. The company in October agreed to invest 6 billion pounds ($8.8 billion) into Electricite de France SA’s Hinkley Point project in the U.K.

Countries that ship nuclear technology overseas must be transparent, employ safety standards and train customers, according to Moniz, who was in Japan for a G7 Energy Ministerial Meeting this week. That criteria is particularly crucial in countries without long-established nuclear enterprises, he said.

Ernest Moniz

Photographer: Yuji Okada/Bloomberg

“We all have a shared interest,” Moniz said on Tuesday. “Any nuclear safety incident anywhere in the world is an incident for everybody engaged in nuclear power.”

CGN and CNNC established a joint venture to export the technology and plan to build about 30 nuclear units by 2030 in Asia and Europe, CNNC chairman Sun Qin said in March, according to China Daily.

Russia said in December it had orders for 34 reactors in 13 countries, according to the World Nuclear Association website, and the country agreed with Vietnam in 2011 to provide as much as $9 billion to fund the construction of the nation’s first nuclear power plant.

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