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Crippled by lack of talent, China to set up nuclear university

China is unlikely to reach its nuclear power expansion targets by 2020.

Crippled by lack of talent, China to set up nuclear university

China will soon set up a specialised university to focus on nuclear technology. The decision comes as a result of the Asian's giant's plans for rapid expansion of its nuclear power sector hit a predictable roadblock - there just aren't enough trained people to work in the growing nuclear sector. 

Chinese media outlets have reported that the new university would be set up in the Tianjin Municipality, which lies next to Beijing. The university is to be set up by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country's leading nuclear power developer and nuclear power plant operator.

The new nuclear university is set to not just train enough people to work in China's nuclear programme, but also undertake core technology research and development, reports said.

Chinese media reported that of the 2300 graduates hired by CNNC, only about 20.3 percent majored in nuclear-related courses. CNNC has itself said China's existing colleges and universities can't meet even half of its demand for trained talent between 2016 and 2020. And, CNNC is not even the only government-owned company in the nuclear power sector.

"China has many nuclear power projects and will continue to develop, which has led to a severe shortage of nuclear talent in power plant design, engineering construction, operations and security control," Chinese media quoted a researcher of the State Council's Development Research Center as saying. "Not enough qualified personnel is threatens nuclear power security," the researcher added. 

As of 2016, China had 31 active nuclear power plants and 23 under construction. It has a plan to have 58 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity by 2020, a target that is unlikely to be achieved.

In 2017, only 3.7 percent of China electricity came from its nuclear power plants. The Asian giant still gets about 68 percent of its power from coal-fired power plants, and has been making a bid to reduce this as part of its efforts to slash its carbon footprint and reduce air pollution.