China, France expand nuclear cooperation

11 April 2023

Cooperation agreements in the field of nuclear energy have been signed between China and France during a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Beijing. The latest agreements between China General Nuclear (CGN), China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and EDF build on 40 years of previous cooperation between the two countries.

President Xi Jinping and President Macron in Beijing (Image: Élysée)

In a joint statement following the 5-7 April visit, the two countries said: "In their common desire for a transition to a carbon-free energy system, France and China are developing pragmatic cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy within the framework of the Cooperation Agreement for the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between the two governments.

"The two countries are committed to continuing their nuclear cooperation on cutting-edge research and development topics, in particular on the basis of the agreement between the Atomic Energy Authority of China and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. The two countries support the study by the companies of the two countries of the possibility of strengthening their industrial and technological cooperation, in particular on the question of the reprocessing of nuclear waste."

On 6 April, CNNC Chairman Yu Jianfeng and EDF Chairman and CEO Luc Rémont signed a Memorandum of Understanding on low-carbon energy development, witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Macron at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"CNNC and EDF have reached a consensus on the use of nuclear energy to support low-carbon energy development," CNNC said. "The two parties will jointly conduct forward-looking research on the technological development direction and market trends of the nuclear energy field, and compile a 'Blue Book' to show the shared attitudes of the two countries' enterprises in responding to climate change and addressing energy issues."

The same day, Yu Jianfeng also attended the fifth meeting of the Sino-French Entrepreneurs Committee. At the meeting, he reviewed the cooperation between China and France in the field of nuclear energy over the past 40 years. He said that Sino-French nuclear energy cooperation was an important part of the Sino-French comprehensive strategic partnership. In future, he said, Chinese and French nuclear energy companies should "adhere to the drive of innovation and deepen cooperation in nuclear energy science and technology; adhere to mutual benefit and win-win results, and promote the high-quality development of nuclear energy; and make new and greater contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind".

An agreement was also signed by CGN Chairman Yang Changli, CGN General Manager Gao Ligang, Deputy Party Secretary Li Li and EDF's Rémont to deepen cooperation in research and development, design, procurement, and operation and maintenance of nuclear energy facilities.

Under that agreement, the two companies will work together "under the principles of transparency, mutual trust, and mutual benefit, and strengthen cooperation under the framework of China and France's respective commitments to achieve carbon neutrality, and go all out to achieve carbon neutrality, and prepare for and address the associated challenges", CGN said. "In the future, the two sides will also deepen industrial cooperation and strengthen cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy."

In a speech to the meeting of the Sino-French Entrepreneurs Committee, Li Li said: "As the main force of Sino-French civil nuclear energy cooperation, CGNPC has been cooperating closely with French nuclear energy companies for 40 years, from the initial introduction of technology and the construction of the first million-kilowatt Daya Bay nuclear power plant in mainland China with the French side, to the construction of the world's first EPR Taishan nuclear power plant. Then to joint development of third-party markets, joint ventures in the construction of the UK's Hinkley Point C and other nuclear power projects, the fields of cooperation between the two sides have continued to expand, and the cooperative relationship has continued to deepen, becoming a model for cooperation in science and technology, industry, and economics and trade between the two countries."

In their joint statement, China and France said they both oppose armed attacks on nuclear power plants and other peaceful nuclear facilities, support the International Atomic Energy Agency in its efforts to play a constructive role in promoting nuclear safety and the security of peaceful nuclear installations, including ensuring the safety and security of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News