China will have over 88 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020 according to head of China Nuclear Energy Association

China’s nuclear power installed capacity, including that in operation and under construction, is predicted to top 88 gigawatts by 2020, said Zhang Huazhu, head of the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA), a national industry organization.

Nuclear power will play a bigger role in improving the country’s energy structure, coping with climate change and controlling air pollution.

China’s estimate for nuclear power in 2020 was about 40 Gigawatts back in 2007 and then it increased to about 80-100 GW before Fukushima. Estimates went down to about 50-55 GW but estimates for nuclear power in China by 2020 have been increasing again. There was a pause in new nuclear reactors that were approved. However, construction continued mainly uninterrupted. Prior to 2008, the government had planned to increase nuclear generating capacity to 40 GWe by 2020 (out of a total 1000 GWe planned), with a further 18 GWe nuclear being under construction then. However, projections for nuclear power then increased to 110 GWe by 2020, 200-350 GWe by 2030 and 500+ GWe by 2050. Following the Fukushima accident and consequent pause in approvals for new plants, the target adopted by the State Council in October 2012 became 60 GWe by 2020, with 30 GWe under construction.

China now has a politically and economically problem with massive air pollution. China will have mostly built out all of the hydro power that they have available early in the 2020s. Nuclear power is a primary air pollution free power source that China can scale out.

If China heads to 300 GWe of nuclear power by 2030 this would generate about 2400 TWh of electricity.

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