China had just 3 power reactors two decades ago, now, it has 38, and another 19 under construction.
China claims over 50 percent of new global investment in nuclear energy and is expected by 2030 to surpass the US and end its leadership in nuclear power generation for almost 50 years.
China is turning to and investing handsomely in nuclear power as the country, after decades of large scale consumption of fossil fuels for power generation, has become aware of its serious impact on environment and people’s health.
Environment decimates the country economic losses close to 6 percent of its GDP, the World Bank estimates.
China’s nuclear power sector is gaining attention in all aspects, including technologies, design, security, investment and future projections.
In order to ensure the installed capacity of nuclear power, which is estimated to reach at least 150 gigawatts by 2030, China should build 4 to 6 nuclear reactors every year, according to China General Nuclear Power Corp.
However, after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, China put on hold its nuclear power program for concerns with security. It suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and launched a nationwide safety review. And in the following years the country went ahead with nuclear development moderately.
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Chinese government released a white paper on nuclear industry in 2016, giving details concerning emergency of nuclear development and highlighting an approach that features “rationality, coordination and balance.” The country said it had “the most advanced technology and most stringent standards” and can make sure development of nuclear power safe and efficient.
In 2016, China added about 8 gW of nuclear power capacity, bringing its installed capacity to 34 gW, according to BMI Research.
China has pledged that renewable energy should play its role in the country’s advancement to green development, with the aim of increasing ratio of non-fossil energy to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030.
While growing more and more matured in experience and technologies in developing nuclear power projects, China is also actively exploring foreign markets. This will have a profound influence on the development of nuclear power sector in the rest of the world.
According to the IAEA, China stays at top of the list of countries who are boosting nuclear power, followed by Russia, India and South Korea respectively having seven, six and three reactors under construction. The order will be the United States, France, Japan and China in terms of number of reactors in operation.
The IAEA said China have most of its reactors built along southeast coast, as it is containing its reliance on coal, which on the one hand causes serious pollution, and on the other hand is hard and costly to transport from mines in west and north parts of the country.
Still facing a growing demand for electricity and a large-scale use of coal for power generation, China plans to use nuclear as a vehicle to curb carbon dioxide emissions, increase energy security and sustain its economic growth.