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IEA Says China to Exceed U.S. Nuclear Output “Soon”

Nuclear plants

China will exceed U.S. nuclear power production “soon” due to recent initiatives taken by Beijing to accelerate adoption of the alternative fuel source, according to an International Energy Agency official.

The Asian nation’s total capacity may also surpass that of the European Union, IEA executive director Fatih Birol told reporters during International Petroleum Week in London.

“China is coming back strong. Today there are about 60 nuclear power plants under construction and more than one-third of them are in China. China is growing and as a result of that we’ll soon see China overtaking the United States as the number 1 nuclear power in the world,” Birol said at the conference.

Output in Europe, particularly in France, a major European nuclear investor, has dropped over the past few years. The lack of roadmap for future facilities in the U.S. is causing a similar effect in North American nuclear markets. “If it continues like that, the US nuclear capacity will go from 20% [of overall power supply] to 7%,” Birol stated.

“I can tell you that what is happening is the same story as we’ve seen in solar. [China] is learning by doing, bringing costs down and therefore [they] are now ready to export [their] technology and are much more cost-effective than others. And [they] challenge the established exporters such as the U.S., Japan, Korea and European countries,” he added.

In the last 20 years, the U.S. has seen only one new nuclear reactor that is functional, constructed by a government entity – the Tennessee Valley Authority. Further, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows that there are only four reactors currently under construction in the entire country. Two would be at the Alvin W. Vogtle station in Georgia, and two at the Virgil C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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