A merger between state-owned nuclear enterprises China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) and State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) was approved earlier this month by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. The resulting firm will have more than $96 billion in assets, Reuters reports. Restructuring work is underway to merge the two companies, but there is no timeline as to when the work will be finished.

As separate companies, CPI lacked nuclear expertise and SNPTC lacked financing and a license to operate its own reactors—problems that are solved through the merger. Together they are in direct competition with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-owned coalition that has designed a new reactor model that it hopes will revolutionize the Chinese market.

SNPTC was created in 2007 in order to streamline transfer of nuclear reactor technology from Japanese-owned, America-based energy company Westinghouse Electric Corporation. In doing so, China made Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor its reactor of choice while SNPTC developed a domestic model—the CAP1400—based on the technology. Previously unable to operate either model, the combined CPI and SNPTC will be able to promote, build, and operate reactors as the CNNC-CGN coalition does its Hualong 1.

CGN is currently the largest producer of nuclear power in China, with a market share of 44 percent. CNNC follows it with 18 percent, and CPI has 10 percent. The rest is held by foreign companies. The global nuclear power market is dominated by French, Russian, and Japanese companies, but China is seeking to compete with these major players on the world stage. In fact, the merger is key in boosting CPI and SNPTC to the scale required to do so. A similar move is being contemplated for a CNNC and CGN merger in the future, with plans submitted last year.

In the meantime, China is the world’s largest nuclear power market, with 23 operational reactors and 26 more under construction. It has recovered from the slow growth brought on by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster and is back in full production of nuclear reactors, which had been halted temporarily. It is aiming to have an installed capacity of 58 gigawatts by 2020, an increase of 18 gigawatts over the 40 it is expected to reach by the end of this year.

(Photo by Malte Schmidt via Flickr)

Posted by Lauren Dodillet