China to build 10 more mega nuclear rectors

The massive expansion of nuclear power plants coincides with India’s plans to expand in a big way.

Last Updated: Jan 26, 2011, 13:44 PM IST

Beijing: China will construct 10 more mega nuclear reactors with a whopping investment of USD 121.5 billion, in addition to 25 currently being built, to step up
its atomic power generation to meet its rising energy demands.

China is expected to raise its 2020 target for the
nuclear power industry to 86 GW or 5 percent of its power
generation with an annual investment of 70 billion Yuan
(USD 10.6 billion), state run China Daily reported today.

To reach the capacity China will build 10 more
nuclear power projects during the 12th Five-Year Plan
(2011-2015), Zhang Guobao, former director of the National
Energy Administration said.

China, the world`s second-largest economy, aims to
get 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.

In line with the country`s move to accelerate the
development of the industry, China National Nuclear Corp
(CNNC), plans to invest 800 billion Yuan (USD 121.5 billion)
in nuclear projects by 2020.

The investments have created a huge market for
nuclear equipment, the value of which is estimated at 500
billion yuan. That equipment forms the largest part of
investment in nuclear power stations, accounting for 50 to 60
percent of the total.

Officials say China is planning a massive push into
nuclear power in an effort to wean itself off coal, the
dirtiest fossil fuel which was seen as a major obstacle for
meeting emission reduction goals.

China now has 12 working reactors with 10.15 GW
which roughly accounts to about 2.2 percent of the total
power production largely relied on coal and hydel projects.

According to official media reports 25 nuclear power
plants were under construction.

Nuclear power will have to account for five percent
of power generation by then Xiao Xinjian, a researcher at
China`s Energy Research Institute said.

The massive expansion of the nuclear power plants,
which perhaps also coincides with India’s plans to expand in a
big way, was expected to create a massive demand for uranium
resources round the world.

According to the World Nuclear Association the
demand uranium in China is expected to reach 20,000 tons
annually by 2020, where as the country will be able to produce
only 2,400 tons of uranium that year.

Chinese nuclear scientists recently claimed a
breakthrough in spent fuel reprocessing technology which could
solve China`s uranium problem for the next 3000 years.

But independent scientists in China argued that
commercial application of nuclear fuel reprocessing has always
been hindered by cost, technology and proliferation risk and
safety challenges.

China which is embarking on a massive expansion of
its nuclear programme needed to import 60 per cent of its
uranium requirements till 2020, they argued.

"China has invested heavily in uranium exploration
know-how and recycling technology to meet the nation`s
burgeoning needs and increase the ratio of nuclear energy in
the total energy consumption mix," Lin Boqiang, director of
the China Centre for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen
University said recently.

"Such technology, including the recycling of spent
nuclear fuel, is still at a very early stage."

If it can be put into practical use, then China can
be self-sufficient, he said Chinese officials also say that
much of China still requires to import much of the nuclear
technology for the expansion phase.

There are concerns that China`s equipment
manufacturing industry is lagging behind the fast-developing
nuclear power industry, the China Daily reported.

The localisation rate stands at 50 percent for
nuclear power equipment installed in China, which means half
of the country`s nuclear equipment is provided by foreign
manufacturers.

The localisation rate of equipment using
second-generation technology is 80 percent while that of the
third generation is only 30 percent, said Xiao of Energy
Research Institute said.

China`s 11 nuclear power units at present use
second-generation technology and plans to focus on developing
reactors based on Westinghouse Electric Co`s third-generation
AP1000 design, instead of second-generation technology, a
recently released official summary said.

"The equipment manufacturing industry will have to
catch up if China is to realise its target of 86 GW of nuclear
power," Xiao said.

To enhance its competitiveness, CNNC started
building a Nuclear Technology Park in Beijing, which will be
the largest research and development centre for the country`s
nuclear power industry.

Also China Institute of Atomic Energy, the cradle of
Chinese nuclear science, plans to step up research efforts to
narrow the gap between China and developed nations in nuclear
science, the Daily reported.

PTI