20 July 2018

Chinese Nuclear Investment in Foreign Countries

Chinese Nuclear Investment

Image Courtesy : South China Morning Post

Chinese nuclear companies are expanding their operations beyond their own national borders. In nuclear energy sector, China has been investing in foreign countries to set up nuclear plants for various energy purposes. The major two foreign nations are Britain and Pakistan, where the investment has paid off quite literally handsomely.

Britain has maintained that it would allow Chinese firms to buy stakes in British nuclear power plants and eventually acquire majority holdings. The agreement, which comes with caveats, opens the way for China’s fast-growing nuclear industry to play a significant role in Britain’s plans to proceed with construction of its first new reactor in nearly two decades. And regional rivalries aside, Pakistan has long fought the issue of lack of power generation and maintenance and it does need the power. This undergoing project fits into Britain’s overall plan to deliver at least 12 new nuclear reactors at five sites by the end of 2030. And it also helps to establish a latest step to improve the condition where Britain has nine aging nuclear plants.

Chinese Nuclear Deals

Under an agreement signed by the two countries, British companies such as Rolls-Royce and International Nuclear Services are winning a bigger role in China’s nuclear power expansion. Since last few years, China is already moving ahead with its own ambitious plan to build dozens of domestic nuclear power stations in the very near future. China has 17 reactors as of now. This development has come into picture after an earthquake and tsunami led to partial meltdowns of three nuclear reactors in China which imposed a moratorium on construction for many months. And Pakistan’s energy woes are another issue where power cuts of eight and nine hours are a common routine, as in some parts of the country there are more hours in the day without electricity than with it. Power outages have sparked violent protests around Pakistan, and factories have had to shutter or drastically reduce production without a steady supply.

This recent China’s interest in the British nuclear industry has signaled a break from a mostly domestic focus. While China has engaged in extensive cooperation with Pakistan in nuclear power, its industry has mostly concentrated on an enormous building programme at home more importantly. So, much of Britain’s highly sensitive nuclear industry, which sprang from the atomic bomb programme, is effectively to be owned by two foreign powers, one the country’s oldest traditional enemy, the other a bitter Cold War opponent. Few other nations, and certainly not China, would dream of permitting anything of the kind.

Future Trends and Implications on Nuclear Energy

The issue with this development seems to be a bit radioactive, but the industry analysts and experts suggest that there are many countries in the world who wouldn’t want other countries involved in their civil nuclear programme, but because if it wasn’t Chinese investment or French investment, it would have to be British taxpayers that will be utilizing it and gaining from. It is known that it was British investors and industry shun nuclear power earlier. Although commentators frequently fulminate about the failure of successive governments to go nuclear, the real problem has been that, in a liberalized electricity market, no one could be persuaded to invest in new reactors. The Pakistan’s nuclear program, however is going to be of an improvement as the reactors are expected to supply 2,200 megawatts to the grid by the end of 2019. The complex is not the first energy investment or nuclear project in Pakistan that China has been involved with, but it will be by far the largest.

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