Ramping up growth in the nuclear industry will be crucial to achieving China’s emissions goals.
Get ready for China’s nuclear industry to boom (no pun intended): The
China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA) predicts that eight new nuclear
reactors will begin operation this year. If so, that will mark the
largest single-year increase in nuclear power production in China’s
China is looking to more than double the number of nuclear power
plants in operation — there are currently 23 operating, with 26 under
construction. If all the projects are completed as planned, it would
bring China’s nuclear energy capacity up to 49.9 gigawatts, compared to
the current capacity of 21.4 gigawatts. Plus, CNEA expects an additional
six to eight nuclear energy projects to be approved this year.
Zhang Huazhu, the chairman of CNEA, called 2015
“an important yet for China to resume its nuclear power program.” Like
many countries, China slammed the brakes on nuclear power after the
Fukushima disaster in Japan; the industry in China is just beginning to
regain its footing. A rapid expansion of nuclear power is critical
for weaning China off of coal and reaching emissions reduction targets,
but safety concerns (and public fears) continue to plague the industry.
In 2014, China didn’t approve a single new nuclear power project, and
investment in the industry dropped by 6.6 percent, Zhang said, speaking
an industry conference in Beijing.
Currently, nuclear energy accounts for less than 3 percent of China’s
total power generation. “In the coming decade, China will maintain a
rapid pace of nuclear power development so that it can reach the target
of nuclear installations by 2020 and make better use of energy,” Zhang
said. China’s stated goal is to have 58 gigawatts in nuclear power
capacity by 2020, but that goal may be difficult to reach given the
slowdown in construction after 2011.