Update on China’s nuclear plans

China Daily – China will likely be approving only three or four projects each year from 2012-2015. This will be 12 to 15 reactors in the remainder of the five year planning period. The country had been accelerating its nuclear development since 2008, with 14 reactors approved in 2008 and six in 2009.

The slowdown will effect the number of nuclear reactors that come online in the 2016 to 2020 period. The reactors under construction and the backlog of approvals will be for reactors that will be built by 2015. China should still have about 40 reactors and about 40 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2015. Then China could slow to about 60-70 Gigawatts by 2020. I expect a return to more in reactor approvals to occur before 2015. In the meantime China will ensure that any generation 2 reactors get generation 3 safety improvements. They will also increase the percent of the reactors that are produced domestically.

China has 26 reactors under construction now.

Here is a link to a profile of nuclear reactor plans in China

The nation is likely to introduce third-generation (3G) nuclear technology in all future plants because of more stringent safety standards, according to a source close to the matter.

It is possible that projects using advanced second-generation technology and starting preliminary work may switch to 3G if the government made such a move mandatory, according to Xiao.

China introduced the AP 1000 3G nuclear technology in 2007 through its nuclear technology arm, State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC).

The first AP 1000 reactor will become operational in 2013, as scheduled, despite delays caused by redesigns by the US technology developer Westinghouse Electric Co, according to SNPTC.

The indigenous rate (that is, using components made in China) of the first four reactors using the AP1000 technology is 55 percent on average.

“It is hard to achieve 100 percent localization over a short period,” the source said.

Meanwhile, China is also developing its first domestic 3G nuclear reactor – the CAP 1400 – which is based on the AP1000 and will boost the unit’s generating capacity to 1,400 megawatts (mW) from 1,154 mW.

Preliminary designs for the technology will be completed by the end of this year.

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