Beijing: China is edging closer to building its first-ever floating maritime nuclear power platform, which is expected to add to Beijing’s increasing clout in the disputed South China Sea. According to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, the construction work is due to be completed by 2018 and be put into operation by 2019.
It said the nuclear power platforms could ‘sail’ to remote areas and provide a stable power supply. China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the company in charge of designing and assembling the platforms, is pushing forward the work, said Liu Zhengguo, the director of its general office.
“The development of nuclear power platforms is a burgeoning trend,” Liu told the newspaper when asked to comment on a previous media report that China plans to build 20 maritime nuclear power platforms.
“The exact number of plants to be built (by CSIC) depends on the market demand,” he said, without confirming or denying the reported number.
“Judging by various factors, the demand is pretty strong,” Liu said, adding the construction of the platforms is ‘based on mature technology’.
He emphasised that the plants are mainly for civilian use, such as providing electricity for oil drilling platforms.
The floating nuclear power plant, which can be equipped inside a section of the vessel, is often used to supply stable electricity not only to remote areas, but also to large industrial facilities such as seawater desalination plants and offshore oilfield exploration rigs.
The Global Times also reported that the nuclear platforms could significantly boost the efficiency of the country’s construction work on islands in the strategic South China Sea.
The daily quoted a report published by eworldship.com, a Shanghai-based shipbuilding industry website, that Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Company (BSHIC), a ship assembly enterprise under the CSIC, will be responsible for building China’s first maritime nuclear power platform, and the CSIC will build about 20 such platforms in the future.
The report said a group of experts has reviewed and discussed the technical plan on the construction of the platform proposed by Institute 719, which is also under the CSIC, and reached a unanimous conclusion.
Meanwhile, when the Foreign Ministry was asked about the latest development, it declined to react saying ‘it had not heard of the plans’.
“What you said is a media report. I have not heard about that,” Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
Right now, there are 30 nuclear power generating units in operation in China, with another 24 units under construction, all on land.