Energy News: China Nuclear Power Accelerating

1. China looks to make the official nuclear target 70GW for 2020 and 160GW for 2030

China is poised to up its nuclear energy capacity targets to 70 GWe by 2020, according to reports in Chinese state media. The revision is awaiting approval by the State Council.

The reports also say that NEA officials have recommended that the current nuclear construction program should be speeded up, with work to start on 16 units totalling over 10 GWe over the next three years. China is currently building some ten reactors – work started on six units in 2008 alone – with many more about to start construction, and it seems likely that the 16 units mentioned in latest reports are included in the construction starts that are already planned. According to 21st Century Business Herald, in addition to the construction starts that are already expected this year, approval has been given for preliminary work on three new inland nuclear power plants at Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi.

2. Sweden is reversing its anti-nuclear policies

New nuclear power plants will play a part in Sweden’s long-term energy future, after the coalition government scrapped old anti-nuclear policies.

The act which banned construction of new nuclear reactors has been officially abolished and ‘Permission must be given to gradually replace the existing reactors as they reach the end of their economic life.’ However, ‘state aid for nuclear power, in the form of direct or indirect subsidies, cannot be expected.’

Sweden has a strong nuclear sector which responded to the ban on new reactors by upgrading most of the existing ones. When fully completed, the resulting national nuclear capacity boost will reach over 1150 MWe – about the same as a new reactor could have provided. This figure compares to the 1200 MWe in nuclear generation lost by the early closure of the two Barsebäck reactors in 2004 and 2005, which was forced by Social Democrats.

The company OKG, part of the Eon group, noted that Oskarshamn has space for three new reactors and the government’s move gives far greater certainty for the long-term future of the plant. OKG’s main priority, it said, would remain the maintenance of their current three-unit nuclear fleet so that each can operate for 60 years.