Chinese nuclear companies are actively seeking stock market listings in a bid to advance their projects, as the country has lifted the ban on new nuclear power projects after a 1.5-year suspension.
The State Nuclear Power Technology Corp is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) and has established a team to prepare it, Zuo Xinci, a spokesperson for the company, told the Global Times Monday.
And China Nuclear Engineering Corp passed the environmental examination of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on November 1, which would permit it to list on the A-share market. The company plans to raise 1.8 billion yuan ($288 million) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange for six projects, according to information on the MEP website.
In June, China Nuclear Power Co also passed the examination for a listing. Sun Qin, chairman of China National Nuclear Corp, the parent company of the firm, said on November 14 that it is considering an A-share listing, subject to approval by the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
Sun disclosed that other nuclear firms, such as China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, also have listing plans.
The news of IPO plans came as more nuclear projects were given environmental clearance by the MEP in November.
The central government issued a nuclear safety plan on October 24, which is believed to be a signal of resuming nuclear development in the country.
On Friday alone, two projects got environmental clearance: a flood control project at Qinshan Nuclear Power Station, as well as Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant's No.3 and No.4 reactors.
This means a restart of environmental clearance for new nuclear projects after more than one year's suspension, Gao Shixian, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, told the Global Times Monday.
New nuclear project approvals in China have been suspended since March 2011, after the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan.
The recently approved projects are not new proposals, but were among those submitted for environmental clearance earlier and then shelved during the suspension, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times Monday.
The pace for clearing new nuclear projects will be much slower now, with a limited number of projects getting approved each year, because the country has greatly raised the standards, Lin said.
According to the nuclear safety plan, new nuclear projects must be built in accordance with the world's highest safety requirements and use generation III reactors, while most reactors currently operating in China are generation II plus, he noted.
"The performance of companies in the nuclear industry will be far worse than in the past, because of the slowdown of new projects in the sector, so the moment is not a good one for nuclear firms to seek listings," Lin said, but he also noted that nuclear power has big potential.
China has only 15 nuclear power generating units, with a total installed capacity of 12.54 million kilowatts, according to China's White Paper of Energy Policy 2012 published by the State Council Information Office on October 24.
However, nuclear power accounts for only 1 percent of China's annual power output, far below the world average of 14 percent, the white paper said, setting an objective for installed nuclear capacity to reach 40 million kilowatts by 2015.