CLP moves ahead with $1.7B stake in China nuke plant

Hong Kong's energy future looks to be a done deal
July 26, 2011
CLP Yangjiang nuclear power plant

Hong Kong-based utility CLP Holdings has followed through on an MOU signed last year with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding and bought a 17 percent stake in the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station, which is currently under construction.

Following March's Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, CLP said investments in new nuclear generating capacity, including the CYN11.9 billion yuan (USD1.7 billion) stake in the Yangjiang project, were subject to review.

This was in line with the announcement by Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) that it would reassess its plan to double the proportion of electricity supplied by nuclear plants to 50 percent by 2020. Officially the SAR's energy strategy is still under review but CLP's move would appear to indicate there will be no change of plan.

CLP's investment buys it the equivalent of one reactor at the six-reactor 6-GW plant, which commenced construction in 2008 on the coast of western Guangdong Province, 227km from Hong Kong. The project is expected to be commissioned in phases between 2013 and 2017.

"In considering the investment on the Yangjiang Project, CLP has carefully assessed the safety standards of the design, construction and operational planning of the power station to make sure that they comply with the stringent national safety standards and regulations," the company said in a statement announcing its investment.

"Furthermore, the power station will strictly follow the improvement measures put forward by the mainland government after the comprehensive nuclear safety review. These include safety enhancement measures for withstanding extreme multiple natural disasters and strengthening capability for emergency preparedness. We will also make reference to the best practice of the international nuclear industry to further enhance the design and operational safety of the power station," CLP's statement continued.

The reactors being built at Yangjiang are China's CPR-1000, a Generation II+ pressurized water reactor derived from the French 900-MW three cooling loop design but improved to have a net power output of 1-GW and a 60 year design life.

Yangjiang is one of four new nuclear power plants that China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding has either in advanced planning or under construction across the province. It already has two plants in operation: the Daya Bay nuclear power plant 50km from Hong Kong and the adjacent Ling Ao plant. CLP owns 25 percent of the Daya Bay facility, China's first civilian nuclear power plant.

The Daya Bay plant recently won the "2010 EDF Safety Challenge" against competition from pressurized water reactors operating in France, the UK, South Africa and elsewhere in China. CLP said that: "Moving forward with the Yangjiang Project, we will share and transfer our proven experience on Daya Bay into the new project."

Beijing is promoting alternative energy sources such as nuclear, wind and solar to curb surging demand for imported oil and gas and to reduce environmental damage from heavy reliance on coal. However, government officials signalled that the country's nuclear policy would stress safety over rapid development on the heels of the nuclear nuclear crisis in Japan.

China's nuclear regulators said in June that safety reviews of 28 reactors under construction should be completed by October. Thirteen operating reactors were checked and given clean bills of health.