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Spain's nuclear sector eyes growth in China

China,Business/Economy, Fri, 06 Apr 2012 IANS

Beijing, April 6 (IANS/EFE) Spain's nuclear energy sector has gained a strong foothold in China over the past quarter century, providing components or services to nine of the country's 14 operating nuclear power plants, and now is seeking to further expand its presence in the Asian nation, said authorities.


The current goal is to gain participation in future nuclear power stations, both those already being built and those whose construction is pending approval, the Spanish Nuclear Group for China (SNGC) - an alliance of four Spanish nuclear companies, Equipos Nucleares SA, Tecnatom, ENUSA and Ringo Valvulas - told EFE.


"There are many possibilities for boosting this participation," SNGC director Carmelo Palacios said during this week's Nuclear Industry China exhibition - the world's largest - in Beijing.


"They're companies that aren't coming to China for the first time. They've been working here for some time and believe there are some very significant business prospects in their sector in the coming years," Spain's Ambassador to China, Eugenio Bregolat, said at the event.


He said China is the "place to be" for Spain's nuclear industry and plenty of reasons for such optimism abound, given approval is pending for up to 40 more plants to be built between now and 2020.


If the projections prove accurate, the world's second-largest economy would eventually have a total of 80 nuclear power plants.


"Of the 80 they'll have, let's see if we can be in 40 or 50, involved in bigger or smaller things," Palacios said.


Although prohibited from designing a complete plant, each of the four companies that make up the SNGC is valued in China for the services they provide: steam generators, control rooms, inspection teams and even nuclear fuel.


"We're well situated and quite well connected. We've received a lot of Chinese delegations in Spain," Palacios said.


Tecnatom, among a handful of companies worldwide that specialize in inspection technologies for nuclear power plants, exemplifies the success the four companies have had in the Asian nation.


"Half of the Chinese plants are being inspected with our technology and our equipment. It's an example of what we're capable of doing," Tecnatom General Manager Javier Guerra said.


Competition in China - which accounts for 40 percent of Tecnatom's exports - is "fierce", said Guerra, who added that his company has succeeded despite the presence of powerful rivals such as US-based Westinghouse Electric Company and France's Areva.


Proof of that success is an agreement reached during the Beijing fair with two Chinese companies for joint work in the Asian country and abroad.


Despite doubts about the industry's future after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, China's nuclear programme continues unabated and is considered the fastest-growing worldwide.






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