Chinese nuclear power plant says it plans IPO, suggesting construction boom resuming

BEIJING, China – China’s main developer of nuclear power plants says it plans to raise money with an initial public offering, suggesting an industry building boom is resuming after being suspended following Japan’s nuclear disaster last year.

The IPO will help to pay for a 173.5 billion yuan ($27 billion) program to build or expand five nuclear power plants, China National Nuclear Power Corp. said in a statement on the Environment Ministry website.

The statement, dated Tuesday, said the share sale will take place in China but gave no timetable or a fundraising target. There was no indication whether the share sale has been approved by securities regulators.

China has ambitious plans to have more than 100 reactors operating by 2020 to help curb surging demand for coal and imported oil and gas. But development was suspended after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami crippled the Fukushima power plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chornobyl in 1986.

Authorities launched an inspection of China’s 13 operating reactors following the Fukushima disaster and said they found no problems. They said they were reviewing work on the 28 reactors under construction.

China is the world’s biggest energy consumer. Increasing use of nuclear power is a key part of Beijing’s plans to curb demand for fossil fuels, though coal is forecast to remain the country’s main energy source for decades.

A separate Environment Ministry statement said China National Nuclear Power Corp. had passed an environmental inspection required before an IPO can be approved by securities regulators.

IPO proceeds will help pay for work on nuclear power plants in Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces in the southeast, Jiangsu province north of Shanghai and on the southern island of Hainan, the company said.

It said those projects already have been approved by the Cabinet’s planning agency.

In another indication industry development is about to resume, the Cabinet said last week it approved a five-year plan for nuclear security and handling of radioactive contaminants and set goals through 2020 on the issue.

The nuclear power company was created in December 2011 as part of a restructuring of its parent, the state-owned China National Nuclear Corp.