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China Powers Petrochemicals with Nuclear Steam in Historical First

China has launched production on the country’s first nuclear-powered steam supply plant for the petrochemicals industry in the eastern Jiangsu Province, showcasing one of a series of Beijing’s advanced-tech, low- or zero-carbon projects now in the works. 

The successful launch of the plant follows the December 2022 launch of China’s first industrial plant supplied by nuclear-generated thermal energy, Reuters reports. 

The nuclear-powered steam plant, Heqi-1, went into operation on Wednesday, and will eventually transport 4.8 million tons of zero-carbon clean steam annually from the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station, a subsidiary of state-run China National Nuclear Corp, to power up its petrochemical plants, replacing some of the 400,000 tons per year of coal being burned. 

"In the future, we will foster and incubate a new batch of nuclear energy multi-purpose tech-applicable projects, vigorously boosting comprehensive utilization of nuclear energy and wide-ranging application of nuclear technology in industries, agriculture, healthcare, environmental protection and security," Chinese media cited Huang Ping, secretary-general of China Atomic Energy Authority, as saying. 

Late last year, China said it planned to manufacture more than half of the worldwide vessels powered by cleaner fuels such as LNG and methanol by 2025, as part of efforts to become a carbon-neutral economy by 2060. 

Overall, China is making a concerted push in the low-carbon segment, with low-carbon energy contributing 40% to the country’s economic growth last year, according to the climate think tank, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air. The think tank estimated in January that low-carbon energy projects contributed an estimated $1.6 trillion to China’s GDP in 2023, more than any other sector.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on June 19 2024 said:
    China is leapfrogging the United States and the West in every aspect of life. The latest and also the first in the world is powering a petrochemical production plant with nuclear steam thus showcasing one of a series of Beijing’s advanced-tech, low- or zero-carbon projects now in the works.

    The nuclear-powered steam plant, Heqi-1, went into operation on Wednesday, and will eventually transport 4.8 million tons of zero-carbon clean steam annually from the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station to power up its petrochemical plants, replacing some of the 400,000 tons per year of coal being burned.

    It is very probable that this technology could be used to power huge water desalination plants in the gulf region particularly in UAE which already operates nuclear reactors and Saudi Arabia which will have them in a few years.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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