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China goes nuclear

An encouraging bit of environmental news - in Dec 06, the Chinese signed a contract with the Westinghouse company to build four new nuclear reactors. Two will be at Sanmen, Zhejiang province, and the other two at Yany jiang, Guangdong. The plants are the AP 1000 units, which generate 1100 MW each. The four-reactor contract is worth about $5.3 billion.

Westinghouse, bought by Toshiba in October, is likely to be favourite in bidding to supply 26 more reactors by 2020 as China turns to atomic energy, to cut coal pollution and reduce reliance on oil.

The contract to build the plants for China National Nuclear Corporation ends two years of negotiating by Westinghouse and its two main rivals, Areva and AtomStroyExport. China is aiming at getting 4% of its power from nuclear energy by 2020, from about 2.3% now. It will need to add two reactors a year.

The price of the nuclear power from the AP 1000 units is given as between $1.00 and $1.20 per installed watt on the Westinghouse website. (about 0.50 - 0.60) At a load factor of 75% this is 0.67 - 0.80 per watt delivered. It's interesting to note that the price is a small fraction of that of wind power. Click on prices for the comparison.

Westinghouse says that the plants should be operating in six years.

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