When a unit of North Carolina’s Curtiss-Wright Corp. won a roughly $300 million deal in 2007 to supply components for new reactors in China, industry officials trumpeted China’s nuclear boom as good for U.S. business.
Today, Chinese companies are competing for that business—and foreign companies risk getting left out. Meanwhile, Curtiss-Wright’s contract is caught up in a legal dispute, while Chinese authorities blame the company in part for the delay of a landmark nuclear project. As the WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports:
U.S. and other foreign companies are now struggling to keep their hold in China, the industry’s biggest growth market and a rare bright spot more than three years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan put many of the world’s nuclear projects on hold. Yet China is increasingly turning to local companies to build crucial parts for multibillion-dollar nuclear projects, a result of Chinese industrial nationalism and frustration over U.S. supplier problems.
With the global nuclear industry focused on China, the Chinese government has used the heft of its huge market to secure transfers of key technology and gradually localize production. In the process, China is achieving a political aim to source sensitive manufacturing at home and satisfying a practical need to avoid complications posed by faraway suppliers.
One of those supplier issues has surfaced in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, where Pennsylvania’s Westinghouse Electric Co. is building the first of four of its most advanced, commercially available reactor, the AP1000, in China. Local authorities blame two-year delays in part on quality problems related to Curtiss-Wright. In a written statement, Curtiss-Wright said it has “refined and improved our design processes” as a result.
Still, despite the challenges, opportunities remain for international providers, said Rosemary Yeremian, president of Strategic Insights Inc., a Toronto-based consultancy. China is new to the global nuclear stage, and partnerships bring quality and other assurances, she said.