Beijing: A nuclear reactor being developed by China - the CAP1400 - will be ready for export this year, an executive of the SNPTC state nuclear corporation, Gu Jun, said at a conference in the Chinese capital.
"The exploration of business opportunities on the world market will begin in 2013," Gu said, adding that the technology "is currently being evaluated by the National Energy Office", the China Daily newspaper cited him as saying.
The official said that, once granted a permit by that office, "it (the reactor) can be ready by the end of 2013".
The third-generation reactor, with greater efficiency than older models and with optimized design, has been developed from a 2008 agreement between SNPTC and the US firm Westinghouse Electric.
With regard to possible countries where the new Chinese technology might be sold, the vice president of SNPTC, Ma Lu, said the hunt for markets will be carried out jointly with Westinghouse but that "in certain areas, South Africa for example, the Chinese partner can take the initiative and promote the CAP1400".
China decided to use the US firm's technology to build four reactors, two of them in Sanmen in the eastern province of Zhejiang, and another two in Haiyang in Shandong province. They will be the world's first third-generation reactors.
Last Tuesday the general work on one of the Sanmen reactors was considered finalized and it is expected to begin operating starting in 2014, while the other three will be finished in 2016.
Westinghouse and SNPTC reached an accord for the joint development of an even more advanced model than the CAP1400, the CAP1700, whose research and design will begin this year.
Some experts, however, have expressed their doubts about the success the new Chinese nuclear reactors will have on the international market, for one thing because they are not known globally and secondly, because of the slow recovery of demand for nuclear energy following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Some also think the Asian giant needs to build 20 to 30 nuclear reactors for its domestic market in order to create and solidify its image in the rest of the world.