Beijing is seeking more control over construction and management as it gears for large-scale expansion Beijing is beefing up its nuclear know-how by insisting on primary control of project management in nuclear power plant projects, an industry executive says. China has taken direct control of expansion projects for two existing nuclear plants, while using its traditional contract procurement approach for the construction of two new facilities, said Didier Cordero, director of engineering, projects and assets management at Electricite de France (EDF), a principal contractor for the Lingao nuclear plant in Daya Bay, Guangdong. This strategy helps Beijing prepare for what will likely become the world's largest nuclear construction programme, he said. China plans to more than quadruple its total nuclear power generating capacity to 40,000 megawatts (MW) in 2020 from 8,700 MW at the end of last year. Nuclear energy will account for 4 per cent of total power generation - up from 1.8 per cent last year. Four projects were put on tender for construction in October last year after several delays in which Beijing policymakers pondered the best means of retaining control without hindering the pace of development. International equipment providers have until today to submit tenders for the four projects - each of them 1,000 MW - in Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, involving up to 80 billion yuan of investment. In the second-phase expansions of Guangdong's Lingao plant and Qinshan plant in Zhejiang province, the Chinese owners are taking an active role in design, procurement and management. They will source major project parts 'package by package', which is similar to the 'French approach', Mr Cordero said. For the new plants at Sanmen and Yangjiang - in Zhejiang and Guangdong, respectively - the turn-key approach will be used, where foreign suppliers will build the whole plant and turn over management to the owners. State-owned EDF, which owns and operates all of France's nuclear plants, has accumulated valuable experience by doing plant design and management in-house, while most utilities firms in other parts of the world use the turn-key approach by commissioning suppliers to do the job, Mr Cordero said. Such experience can help lower costs and enhance efficiency, as expertise is kept in-house and the owner is less reliant on suppliers. 'China is very interested in the same model [that France uses], and is preparing for its nuclear industry for the future,' he said. So far, Beijing has maintained a tight grip on the domestic nuclear industry. Hong Kong's CLP Holdings is the only non-mainland firm so far allowed to invest directly in the sector. Mr Cordero said EDF was interested in the mainland market even if it could not acquire a stake in a nuclear power venture because it needed to maintain its expertise in the country to win contracts for new plants and for the projected decommissioning of nuclear facilities in the next two decades as they reached the end of their expected lifespans. 'By the time we are ready to re-build the plants, the most up-to-date technology will come from suppliers that will build the plants for China,' he said. 'We have to prepare for that.'