China Builds Nuclear Reactor for 40% Less Than Cost in France, Areva Says

Areva SA said the EPR (1700MWe) nuclear reactor costs 3 billion euros ($4 billion) to build in China, 40 percent less than the price tag Electricite de France SA has put on building one in Normandy.

Chinese nuclear builders’ grasp of the technology is “very worrying” for European companies, Areva Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon told a hearing at the French Senate today in Paris. She also said Chinese companies are more efficient.

I translate “very worrying” by the CEO of the French nuclear company as “Areva will be toast when China starts exporting”. China 40% price advantage is for Areva most advance 1700 MWe version. China has even more price advantage for the 1000MWe version of the 900MWe french reactor.

Talks on developing two more of the reactors in China in addition to two already under construction are “near completion,” Lauvergeon said. Areva is also in the final stages of negotiating the sale of two EPRs in India, plus a nuclear fuel contract, she said.

Nuclear Townhall talks about China nuclear advantage and Russian plans.

China and Russia have agreed to drop the U.S. dollar in their bi-lateral trade, and China has revealed ambitious plans to start exporting reactors by 2013 and develop an integral fast breeder program that will complete its nuclear fuel cycle.

All this has extraordinarily implications for America’s economic future. Approximately 40 percent of the dollar’s value comes from its use as the world’s international currency. Yet inflation and U.S. debt have eroded that value and China and Russia are catching on. If the world follows their lead in dropping the dollar, every American will lose 40 percent of his or her net worth overnight.

Chinese technicians have already reversed-engineered Areva 900-MW reactors built at Daya Bay into the CPR-1000 and have 16 under construction, the first scheduled to open next September. Zhang said that once certain intellectual property issues are cleared up with Areva, Guangdong would begin exporting, probably by 2013. Chinese engineers are already doing the same thing with the Westinghouse AP1000 as well.

State-run EDF has a 30 percent stake in Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. to develop and operate two 1,700- megawatt EPRs with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. Areva, also run by the government, is supplying components.

Construction of Taishan 1 began in November 2009 while Taishan 2 started in April. The reactors are expected to start at the end of 2013 and 2014, according to EDF.

The EPR being developed in Finland will take 86 months to complete due to the country’s “very demanding regulator and a complicated” client, Lauvergeon said. The Flamanville reactor in Normandy will take 71 months while Taishan 1 and 2 are targeting 46 months, she said.

Taishan 1 is on schedule and Taishan 2 is ahead, according to Lauvergeon. Progress at Taishan is being kept six months behind Flamanville deliberately in order to benefits from experience

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