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BEIJING, CHINA - U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman and Chinese Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Ma Kai today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will pave the way for Westinghouse Electric Company to construct four civilian nuclear power plants in China.  This agreement illustrates the United States government's support of the Chinese expansion and use of safe, emissions-free nuclear power and the related technology transfer.

"This is an exciting day for the U.S. nuclear industry.  This agreement is good for the people of China and good for the people of the United States.  It is an example that if we work together, we can advance not only our trade relations, but also our common goal of energy security," Secretary Bodman said.  "This DOE-supported, Generation 3+ reactor is safer and more efficient than current reactors and could help spur development of a nuclear renaissance in the U.S."

The initial agreement between China and Westinghouse is for four reactors, two at each site in Sanmen and Yangjing.  The reactors will be Westinghouse design AP1000 and will be 1100 megawatts each.  The agreement could lead to as many as 5,500 jobs in 12 U.S. states.

The precursor to the AP1000, the AP600, was funded by DOE in the 1990s under a program to develop an Advanced Light Water Reactor.  The Department is currently engaged in a cost-sharing agreement with Westinghouse for the AP1000 detail design.  The total design is set to cost $436 million, of which DOE will fund $218 million over seven years, FY 2005-FY 2011.  This cost share supported the completion of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) design certification in 2005 and supports engineering for the NRC licensing and construction of the first standard AP1000 nuclear plant design.

The U.S. government began working with the Chinese government to support the bid of a U.S. manufacturer in 2004 under then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and then-Secretary of Commerce Don Evans.  Since then, Secretary Bodman and his Cabinet colleagues Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez have also contributed supported Westinghouse's bid.

Currently, nuclear energy provides about 1.5 percent of China's total energy.  The Chinese have expressed a goal of building 30 new reactors over the next 15 years, which would produce 4 percent of their electricity.  In addition, last month the U.S. accepted China as a partner in the development of the Generation IV nuclear reactor.

Media contact(s):

Anne Womack Kolton, (202) 586-4940