Argentina Asks China to Build Nuclear Plant Amid Economic Downturn

Argentina’s state operator Nucleoelectrica Argentina said the government had asked China to fully finance a new $8.3 billion nuclear power plant as the government grapples with high debt levels. 

“We’re aiming for 100% financing from China to guarantee no delays given the problems we have with funding,” said Jorge Sidelnik, executive director of Argentina’s state operator Nucleoelectrica Argentina.

Sidelnik said the new plant would require 99 months of construction work and would help the country raise the nuclear share of installed power to 8% in coming years, from the current 4%. 

Nucleoelectrica Argentina said the new plant – Atucha III – will be built on the same 123.5 acres where the existing Atucha I and Atucha II plants are near the city of Lima in Buenos Aires.

According to Sidelnik, the new plant would add another 1,200 megawatts, employ some 7,000 people in its construction and require about 700 employees to run it.

The aim was to sign the final agreement by the end of 2022, once nine pre-existing conditions established in February were met, including financing, an environmental impact study, which has already been carried out, and a public hearing, Sidelnik added.

“This input reactor is going to last 60 years, the projections are 80 years, so it is an important long-term business,” Sidelnik said.

In February, Argentina signed an agreement with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to construct the Atucha III power plant, financing only 85% of the cost. 

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