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China Plans To Build the ‘Nuclear Silk Road’

April 4, 2016 (EIRNS)—China has made explicit that building new nuclear plants is part of its infrastructure plan for the Silk Road. While China’s nuclear companies have already been marketing their domestic reactors, and have won some orders, its specific inclusion of nuclear plants under the umbrella of the Silk Road program opens additional sources of support, financing, and visibility.

"The export of nuclear reactors will become one of the key pillars for executing China’s One Belt, One Road strategy," according to securities analyst Zheng Dandan, as covered by the South China Morning Post today. There are 69 Gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity under construction, and over 180 GW are planned over the next decade. China is marketing its domestic Hualong One reactor, even while the first one is now under construction in China. The SCMP reports that the reactor will have a construction cost of $2.5 billion per GW, which is less than one-third of the cost of current nuclear projects being built by the legacy reactor vendors from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and even Russia.

Chinese nuclear companies have said that about 80% of the nearly 300 reactors that could be built by 2030 would be in "One Belt, One Road" nations. China National Nuclear Corp. wants to build 30 of these. Argentina is China’s base in the South American market; Algeria is the base for Africa, and Pakistan, for Asia.