Spain's nuclear technology companies, which over the years have gradually expanded their business in China, are set to become key players in the emergence of the Asian giant as an exporter of nuclear power equipment.

Showing how aware they are of that opportunity, while taking part in the 10th China International Exhibition on Nuclear Power Industry in Shanghai, were top executives from the Spanish firms Ensa, Enusa, Tecnatom, Ringo Valvulas and Tecnicas Reunidas.

Also on hand was the Spanish Nuclear Group for China, whose general director Carmelo Palacios told Efe that this opportunity, "if we work it right, has a lot of possibilities."

The state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation already has staff in Argentina, and has its sights set on Brazil and South Africa as possible markets.

With technology at the highest international level, its capacity for adaptation and 40 years of experience in the industry, Spain is becoming the ideal potential partner, Palacios said.

Maybe Spanish firms can't compete for giant projects with U.S. heavyweights Westinghouse and General Electric or France's Areva, but for several years they have sold China their experience, solutions and some very specific technology.

"Now they're really opening their doors to us," said Roberto Gonzalez, director of technology and fuel trading at Enusa, who after five years in that market has just landed his first fuel supply contract with CNNC.

"What the Chinese want is an alternative to the classic suppliers of technology and components, and Spain is a good fit for them because we started with a similar model, with American licenses, and then developed our own capabilities," he said.

China has 18 active nuclear reactors and another 28 in the works. EFE