Power play

Chi­nese nu­clear com­pa­nies should in­te­grate tech­nolo­gies with this Bri­tish sup­ply chain to boost lo­cal­iza­tion, says for­mer head of UK Atomic En­ergy Author­ity

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CECILY LIU cecily.liu@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

The for­mer head of the UK Atomic En­ergy Author­ity says Chi­nese nu­clear com­pa­nies should in­te­grate tech­nolo­gies with the Bri­tish sup­ply chain.

China has great nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the in­te­gra­tion of its tech­nol­ogy into Bri­tain’s sup­ply chain will ben­e­fit both na­tions, ac­cord­ing to Bar­bara Judge, an in­flu­en­tial in­dus­try con­sul­tant.

With the Hink­ley Point power sta­tion fi­nally get­ting the goa­head, China is now hop­ing the Hua­long One, its do­mes­ti­cally made third-gen­er­a­tion re­ac­tor, will pass Bri­tain’s rig­or­ous generic de­sign assess­ment, with an eye to it be­ing in­cluded in a pro­posed plant at Brad­well, south­east Eng­land.

The re­ac­tor passed the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency’s generic re­ac­tor safety review in 2014, show­ing that it meets in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“I un­der­stand per­fectly why the Chi­nese would like to build Brad­well,” said Judge, a for­mer chair­woman of the UK Atomic En­ergy Author­ity who con­tin­ues to ad­vise gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies on the nu­clear sec­tor.

She ex­plained that re­ceiv­ing ap­proval from the UK Of­fice of Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tion means it will be eas­ier to ex­port Hua­long One to other de­vel­oped na­tions.

“If the Chi­nese in­dige­nous nu­clear tech­nol­ogy is ap­proved, it will be in the in­ter­est of the Chi­nese to build a power plant (in Bri­tain), be­cause they can use that ex­am­ple as a way to sell their tech­nol­ogy to other coun­tries.

“China will ben­e­fit from in­creased economies of scale of nu­clear projects when in­volved in more projects over­seas,” she added. “It’s nat­u­ral for China to want to de­velop over­seas nu­clear mar­kets, as it is what many other coun­tries with great nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties are do­ing, in­clud­ing the United States, France, Ja­pan, (South) Korea and Rus­sia.”

Bri­tish Prime Minister Theresa May gave the green light in Septem­ber to the Hink­ley Point power sta­tion, which will be built at an es­ti­mated cost of 18 bil­lion pounds ($23.3 bil­lion). Con­struc­tion will be car­ried out by France’s EDF, the main investor, while China Gen­eral Nu­clear Power Group will pro­vide part of the fund­ing.

The nu­clear project will be the first built with Chi­nese in­vest­ment in a de­vel­oped mar­ket, mark­ing a break­through for the na­tion’s in­dus­try.

China has 35 nu­clear re­ac­tors, with 20 more un­der con­struc­tion, and aims to have at least 110 in op­er­a­tion by 2030. So far, how­ever, do­mes­tic com­pa­nies have par­tic­i­pated only in projects in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ar­gentina and Saudi Ara­bia.

As part of CGN’s agreement with EDF to col­lab­o­rate on Hink­ley, the com­pa­nies also will co­op­er­ate in two more Bri­tish projects, at Brad­well in Es­sex and Sizewell in Suf­folk.

Judge, who founded the UK-China Busi­ness Lead­ers Club, says Chi­nese nu­clear com­pa­nies should in­cor­po­rate Bri­tain’s in­dus­try sup­ply chain into their tech­nol­ogy to lo­cal­ize de­signs for the UK mar­ket. This tech­nol­ogy can then be ex­ported to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, which would ben­e­fit Bri­tain and China, she says.

Bri­tish com­pa­nies in the nu­clear in­dus­try sup­ply chain are now in talks to in­cor­po­rate their tech­nolo­gies with that of po­ten­tial Chi­nese part­ners.

Rolls-Royce, for ex­am­ple, signed agree­ments with CGN, China Na­tional Nu­clear Corp and State Nu­clear Power Tech­nol­ogy Corp in 2014 to work to­gether on projects in Bri­tain and China. The com­pany will sup­port Chi­nese en­ter­prises through­out the life­cy­cle of a nu­clear project, of­fer­ing en­gi­neer­ing sup­port, com­po­nents and sys­tems, emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors, sup­ply chain man­age­ment and in­stru­men­ta­tion and con­trol tech­nol­ogy.

“It’s im­por­tant for the Chi­nese to uti­lize the UK’s nu­clear in­dus­try sup­ply chain in their pro­posed projects,” Judge said, adding that it is also im­por­tant “for China and the UK to de­velop a strong work­ing re­la­tion­ship for projects in other coun­tries”.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies are look­ing to par­tic­i­pate fur­ther in Bri­tain’s nu­clear sec­tor by de­vel­op­ing small mod­u­lar nu­clear re­ac­tors, which have a ca­pac­ity of less than 300 megawatts. They are smaller than tra­di­tional nu­clear plants and cheaper to build.

The SMR con­cept has been around for years — China, South Korea, the US and Rus­sia all have de­signs — but so far no one has been able to build on a com­mer­cial scale.

Af­ter the Bri­tish govern­ment launched a com­pe­ti­tion to find the best-value de­sign for fu­ture projects, China Na­tional Nu­clear Corp signed a deal with the Nu­clear Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Re­search Cen­tre, which is led by Sh­effield and Manch­ester uni­ver­si­ties, to col­lab­o­rate on lo­cal­iz­ing its SMR de­sign, the ACP100, should it win.

The govern­ment has com­mit­ted 250 mil­lion pounds over the next five years to the com­pe­ti­tion, which is run by the UK Depart­ment for En­ergy and Cli­mate Change.

“I’m a sup­porter of SMRs as they are quicker to build and less ex­pen­sive,” Judge said, al­though she added that the main chal­lenge is that reg­u­la­tors will not ap­prove tech­nol­ogy that does not have a cus­tomer, and cus­tomers will not in­vest in a project that uses tech­nol­ogy that has not been ap­proved.

“I’m a sup­porter of nu­clear tech­nol­ogy be­cause it pro­vides base load power gen­er­a­tion with­out car­bon, there­fore is an im­por­tant en­ergy source. Nu­clear en­ergy tech­nol­ogy is at an ad­vanced stage of de­vel­op­ment, and China has an im­por­tant role to play to push for­ward nu­clear de­vel­op­ment.”

Judge, a na­tive of New York, be­gan her ca­reer as a lawyer and was made part­ner at Kaye, Sc­holer, Fier­man, Hays & Han­dler in 1978. Two years later, US Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter ap­pointed her to the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion in Wash­ing­ton. At 32, she was the youngest SEC com­mis­sioner and only its sec­ond woman.

In 2002, she be­came direc­tor of the UK Atomic En­ergy Author­ity and went on to serve as its chair­woman from 2004 to 2010.

A long-time advocate for strong UK-China re­la­tions, Judge first vis­ited China as a tourist al­most four decades ago.

“I was prob­a­bly one of the ear­li­est Amer­i­can tourists,” she said. “I knew China would change, and I wanted to see the coun­try be­fore that hap­pened.

“On my first trip I vis­ited Shang­hai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. There were few for­eign­ers back then and peo­ple were pulling my long blonde hair to see if it was real.”

She has since been many times for busi­ness and is a direc­tor of several com­pa­nies ex­pand­ing in the Chi­nese mar­ket. She has also formed a part­ner­ship with Eve Group to help the Chi­nese fash­ion brand to en­ter Western mar­kets.

In ad­di­tion, Judge has given lec­tures at Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties and said peo­ple in the West can learn from China’s ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion.

“I mostly lec­ture on nu­clear power and the topic of women’s ed­u­ca­tion,” she says. “I be­lieve that for women to gain equal­ity, they should study math, science and en­gi­neer­ing. Chi­nese women are do­ing very well in these ar­eas.”

OLE JORGEN BRATLAND / FOR CHINA DAILY

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