French reactor vendor AREVA has signed agreements with two Chinese companies covering the development of partnerships in both civil nuclear power and renewable energy.

A series of "major agreements" have been signed with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), AREVA said.

The agreements come as France and China celebrate 30 years of cooperation in civil nuclear power.

"These agreements will support the development of nuclear and renewables energy in China while reinforcing AREVA’s presence in these markets, which will create jobs both France and China," said Luc Oursel, President and CEO of AREVA.

Zirconium production

A letter of intent between AREVA and CNNC envisages studying the creation of a joint venture to develop a front-end fuel facility for the fabrication and conversion of zirconium alloy in China. This company could produce "up to 600 tons" of zirconium alloy annually by 2017, for the Chinese market. Zirconium alloy is used as fuel cladding in light water reactors.

The letter of intent is part of an industrial and technological cooperation between AREVA and CNNC. This effort began in 2010 with the creation of the CAST joint- venture for the production of Zirconium alloy cladding tubes.

Renewables partnership

AREVA and CGN have also agreed to cooperate in renewable energy – principally offshore wind, but also biomass, concentrated solar power, and energy storage.

AREVA, which is currently installing 600 MW of offshore wind capacity, will provide its expertise as an offshore wind turbine manufacturer. China’s CGN will contribute to future projects as an investor, developer, and operator of wind farms in both China and Europe.

CGN, which is expected to take a stake in the UK’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, has also expressed its interest in the UK’s offshore wind sector. The company also intends to invest in the completion of the Cernavoda 3&4 nuclear power plant in Romania.