A joint venture (JV) to develop and produce small, floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) has been set up by state-owned China National Nuclear Power Co (CNNP) and four other domestic companies, according to a 10 August announcement.  CNNP is part of China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC). As well as CNNP, the new venture includes  Zhejiang Zheneng Electric Power Co, Shanghai Guosheng Group Co, Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard Group and Shanghai Electric Group, the statement said. The new company will be involved in maritime nuclear power research, development, building, operation and management, as well as power sales and seawater desalination, and will have CNY1bn ($150m) in registered capital.

Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of China Energy Net Consulting Co told China Daily: "It is hard to choose the site for large nuclear reactors as they have high hydrological and geological requirements, and safety is always a major concern for local residents living in places with large nuclear stations, which see 60 to 70 years of service life." He added that small nuclear reactors, can provide cheap and sustainable electricity. 1kWh of electricity generated by an offshore nuclear plant costs about CNY0.9, compared with CNY2 for the same quantity generated by diesel for use by drilling platforms in the Bohai Sea.

FNPPs can be moved to isolated areas when they reach the end of their service life, Han said. They can also be exported to economies with large populations but scarce land resources, including economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, he noted.

The JV is aimed at strengthening China’s nuclear power and maritime capabilities and supporting its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to build a network of infrastructure connecting Eurasian and Indo-Asia Pacific markets.

The latest project is part of a five-year plan by China to expand and deepen its nuclear energy capabilities. In 2016, the China Securities Journal reported that China could potentially build up to 20 such floating nuclear plants to accelerate commercial development of the South China Sea and firmly establish itself in the region.

Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times: “The plants will provide environment protection, weather observation, navigation and oil and gas development.” He added that wind and solar power were also being considered for the area. In February, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence said China would develop FNPPS during the 13th five-year plan, which runs between 2016 and 2020. In January 2016, CNNC announced plans to construct a demonstration FNPP based on its ACP100S small reactor design.