China Guodian Group, one of the five big state-owned power generators, has announced its first foray into the capital- and technology-intensive nuclear energy sector, the development of which is aimed at reducing the mainland's reliance on coal. The power major said in a statement that it inaugurated a project preparatory office in Zhangzhou city, Fujian province late last month. 'The office's establishment indicates that early preparation for our nuclear project has started,' it said, adding that the firm is eyeing nuclear opportunities in other energy-short southeastern coastal regions. Guodian said it planned to build 'several' 1,000 megawatt (MW) generating units using the AP1000 technology owned by United States-based Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Group. The plan came after Westinghouse sealed deals in July to build two 1,100 MW reactors for a China Power Investment Corp-led project in Shandong province, and two for a China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) project in Zhejiang province for a combined US$8 billion. French rival Areva last month clinched an Euro8 billion (HK$92.01 billion) contract to build two reactors for China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group in Yangjiang. French nuclear power developer Electricite de France won the right to a 30 per cent stake in the reactors, making it the second non-mainland firm to invest in the sensitive sector after Hong Kong's CLP Holdings. Nomura Securities analyst Donovan Huang said Guodian, with no nuclear experience, was likely to join forces with at least one partner to spread its risk. A Guangdong Nuclear Power Investment official said such a scenario was 'completely possible', but cautioned that the Zhangzhou project was still in an early stage of planning, subject to feasibility studies. CNNC declined to comment. Guodian's rival, also without nuclear experience, partnered Guangdong Nuclear in a separate proposed 2,000 MW project in Ningde, Fujian, for which a proposal was submitted to the central government early last year. Guodian was unavailable for comment.