April 16, 2015

China looks to ramp up nuclear power construction

There are calls to start construction on as many as 500 new nuclear reactors domestically in China by 2050, and even more abroad, China could single-handedly more than double the number of reactors worldwide. China will need to build as many as 10-12 reactors a year, roughly double France’s record pace in the 1980s.

Experts believe China has the production capacity to meet the demanding schedule, it is currently projected to approve no more than six to eight new reactors this year, potentially ramping up to 10 or more annually by the beginning of the next decade

President Xi had a speech which suggests, the government’s interest in nuclear energy goes beyond economic concerns. Beijing claims the industry is also key to reducing the ubiquitous haze from the country’s many coal-fired power plants.

Curbing smog is a top priority for China’s leadership, which is nervous that failure to solve the problem may lead to social unrest.

Concern over the issue seems to have added some pressure to speed up construction.

In March, He Yu, chairman of state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, argued that the country will need to adopt an even more aggressive nuclear development strategy if it hopes to meet its goal of increasing power generated from sources other than fossil fuels to 20 percent of its energy mix by 2030.

“On the strategic level, we should make it clear that nuclear power is central to our national energy supply,” he told China Economic Net, adding that the country should aim to build as much as 200 gigawatts of capacity in the next 15 years. Current plans call for 150 gigawatts.

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