Nuclear power in China: Chinese are becoming self-sufficent

November 1, 2010 | 00:00

Nuclear power in China: Chinese are becoming self-sufficent

This new report from the World Nuclear Organisation provides comprehensive data on the development of nuclear power in China.

The major conclusions:
Mainland China has 12 nuclear power reactors in operation, 24 under construction, and more about to start construction soon.
Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050.
China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

Most of mainland China's electricity is produced from fossil fuels (80% from coal, 2% from oil, 1% from gas in 2006) and hydropower (15%). Two large hydro projects are recent additions: Three Gorges of 18.2 GWe and Yellow River of 15.8 GWe. Rapid growth in demand has given rise to power shortages, and the reliance on fossil fuels has led to much air pollution. The economic loss due to pollution is put by the World Bank at almost 6% of GDP.1 In 2009 power shortages were most acute in central provinces, particularly Hubei, and in December the Central China Grid Co. posted a peak load of 94.6 GW.

Domestic electricity production in 2009 was 3643 billion kWh, 6.0% higher than the 3,450 billion kWh in 2008, which was 5.8% more than in 2007 (3,260 billion kWh) and it is expected to rise to 3,810 billion kWh in 2010. Installed capacity had grown by the end of 2009 to 874 GWe, up 10.2% on the previous year's 793 GWe, which was 11% above the previous year's 713 GWe.2 Capacity growth is expected to slow, reaching about 1600 GWe in 2020. At the end of 2007, there was reported to be 145 GWe of hydro capacity, 554 GWe fossil fuel, 9 GWe nuclear and 4 GWe wind, total 713 GWe. In 2008, the country added 20.1 GWe of hydro capacity, 65.8 GWe coal-fired capacity, and 4.7 GWe wind.

These capacity increase figures are all the more remarkable considering the forced retirement of small inefficient coal-fired plants: 26 GWe of these was closed in 2009, making 60 GWe closed since 2006, cutting annual coal consumption by 69 million tonnes and annual carbon dioxide emissions by 139 Mt.

For the full report click here.


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