China seen buying Westinghouse reactors for $24 billion nuclear energy projects

Reuters

* Westinghouse in talks to sell eight AP1000 Reactors

* Nuclear plants, with machinery and services, may cost $24 billion

* Liaoning's Xudapu and Guangdong's Lufeng part of discussion

* Sanmen 1 to connect to grid in 2015

By Matthew Miller

BEIJING, April 21 (Reuters) - China may sign as early as next year the first of several contracts for eight new nuclear reactors from Westinghouse Electric Co, as the government presses ahead with the world's biggest civilian nuclear power expansion since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

China's main nuclear power companies are moving forward with talks to buy the third-generation Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, said Timothy Collier, China managing director of the U.S.-based company. The eight projects, including machinery and services, are expected to cost $24 billion.

"We are currently in various stages of negotiations for eight new units," Collier told Reuters. Westinghouse is majority owned by Japan's Toshiba Corp and its reactors are the blueprint for China's own nuclear technology.

China currently has 20 nuclear power reactors online, with another 28 under construction, as it seeks to reduce its reliance on costly and polluting fossil fuels to generate electricity. Sun Qin, chairman of major nuclear plant operator China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) recently told Reuters another 20 nuclear reactors may be built within the next six years.

NUCLEAR BOON

China has vowed to more than double the installed nuclear generation capacity to 58 gigawatts (GW) by the end of the decade. Nuclear installed capacity currently stands at 15.69 GW, according to the latest official data.

The eight new Westinghouse reactors will be built at four locations including Sanmen, in the coastal Zhejiang province, and Haiyang in northeastern Shandong province, where another four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are under construction.

Sanmen's first unit is expected to be connected to the grid in 2015, Collier said.

CNNC and China General Nuclear Power Group are also holding talks to buy four additional reactors, which will be built in Xudapu in Liaoning province and Lufeng, in southern Guangdong province, Collier said. The projects have already been approved by the government.

China's nuclear expansion is attracting many equipment suppliers, including French power firms Alstom SA and Areva.

Candu Energy Inc., a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin Group , is also working with CNNC to start converting two Candu 6 reactors at Qinshan in Zhejiang province, to burn reprocessed uranium fuel.

"There's a huge potential for Canada and Candu energy," Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi told Reuters during a visit to Beijing last week.

"If China is going to build 100 reactors in the next 20 years, they require 25 Candu reactors to burn the spent fuel coming from the light-water reactors."

China suspended in 2011 approvals for new nuclear power stations for more than a year and ordered comprehensive checks on all operating plants after a powerful earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima plant.

(Additional reporting by Huang Yan and David Stanway; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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