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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Can China Meet Its Nuclear Power Goals?

Nuclear power plant

China has 36.93 GW of nuclear power generation capacity across 38 units, data from the China Nuclear Energy Association has shown. Most of this is concentrated in coastal provinces where nuclear accounts for 15-25 percent of the power generation mix.

Yet this is nothing compared to China’s plans for nuclear energy: the country is eyeing capacity of 88 GW by 2020, installed and under construction. To this end, it is boosting its manufacturing capabilities and to date, it can make between 8 and 10 cores for pressurized water reactors annually. The core is the part of the reactor where the nuclear reaction takes place.

A recent report by the China Nuclear Energy Association, however, warned that if Beijing is to meet its 2020 nuclear capacity targets, it would need to build faster. This year, the non-government organization said, five reactors will be launched out of 20 that are under construction. But five a year is not enough: China needs to launch between six and eight reactors annually to hit the target of 88 GW in operation by 2020.

The five reactors to be launched this year will add 6 GW to China’s power generation capacity as the country seeks to reduce its dependence on coal, which currently accounts for 70 percent of power generation. Related: Oil Prices Spike As OPEC Compliance Hits New Record

Meanwhile, China is developing its nuclear power know-how and is already exporting it, well on its way to becoming a leading nuclear power as others begin to phase out their nuclear power capacity.

"China is the fastest-expanding nuclear power generator in the world, underscoring the huge potential of the country's nuclear sector at a time when traditional giants like the US are retreating," the director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University recently told the Global Times.

The most notable illustration of this expansion is the Hualong-1 third-generation reactor which is currently being built in China, but Beijing is in talks with four countries, among them the UK, Thailand, Argentina, and the Czech Republic, to built Hualong-1 there as well.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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