China, France further strengthen their nuclear cooperation

01 July 2015

A number of agreements were signed yesterday between Chinese and French nuclear energy companies aimed at strengthening their cooperation in the nuclear fuel cycle and power reactors.

France-China June 2015 - 460 (CNNC)
The agreement on cooperation in power reactors is signed by EDF chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, CNNC general manager Qian Zhimin and Areva CEO Philippe Knoche (Image: CNNC)

The agreements were signed in Paris during a meeting between Chinese premier Li Keqiang and French prime minister Manuel Valls.

The first is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Areva and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) "marking a new step forward in the Chinese project for a used fuel processing and recycling facility." Areva said the MOU "formalizes the end of technical discussions, defines the schedule for commercial negotiations and confirms the willingness of both groups to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible timeframe."

Areva also signed an agreement with CNNC for cooperation in the nuclear fuel cycle. This agreement, it said, "enlarges and deepens existing areas of cooperation". It covers the extraction and conversion of uranium, fabrication of zirconium fuel assemblies, decommissioning, transportation and recycling.

Another agreement was signed between Areva, EDF and CNNC on cooperation in nuclear power reactors. This calls for the partners "to study, in particular, the possibility of closer cooperation in medium- and high-power reactors, particularly in the area of industrial procurement". The agreement also covers greater cooperation in research and development.

A letter of intent was also signed between Areva, EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) on "establishing a long-term partnership in the field of medium- and high-power reactors, which takes into account, in particular, experience from Taishan Phase 1."

Taishan units 1 and 2 are the first two reactors based on Areva's EPR design to be built in China. They form part of an €8 billion contract signed by Areva and CGN in November 2007. Taishan 1, which has been under construction since 2009, is expected to start up in 2016, while Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operating a year later. Work is to begin on a further two EPR units at Taishan over the next few years.

In March 2014, a joint statement was issued by French president Francois Hollande and Chinese president Xi Jinping that saw the two leaders pledge to encourage "industrial and institutional" stakeholders in both nations to advance cooperation efforts in the entire nuclear fuel cycle, including nuclear power plant safety, used fuel recycling, new build projects and uranium mining.

Cooperation agreements were signed between EDF and CGN and by Areva and CNNC in January during a visit to Beijing by the French prime minister. EDF and CGN agreed to share their experience of plant operation and engineering support for existing nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, Areva and CNNC signed an MOU on establishing a joint venture to supply nuclear transport and logistics services.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News