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Hitachi, GE Foray Into Mid-Size Nuclear Reactors

Hitachi and General Electric plan to wade deeper into the field of midsize nuclear reactors, seeking to tap growing demand for smaller power plants in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets.

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The firms have until now focused on large reactors of over 1,300 megawatts, and will compete with Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba Corp, as well as France's Areva and its partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Hitachi and GE , the parent company of CNBC, have started marketing the midsize nuclear reactors and hope to land the first orders in the early 2010s, said Hitachi spokesman Masayuki Takeuchi.

The reactors are expected to be priced at 200-300 billion yen ($1.9 - $2.8 billion). Hitachi has made some midsize reactors in Japan.

Countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand are turning to nuclear power to combat rising crude oil prices, and nuclear power makers are rushing to the region to bid for the projects.

The two firms plan to supply boiling water reactors with output of 400 to 600 megawatts, as well as advanced boiling water reactors with output of 600 to 900 megawatts.

A 1,000 megawatt plant is generally seen as capable of supplying electricity to 1 million households.

Shares of Hitachi were up 2 percent at 781 yen in morning trade, compared with a 1.1 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei 225 Average .