The CCP say that China has to stay with coal, but The West ought pay attention more to the rapid growth of nuclear power. Last September I noted that China was poised to be the largest global nuclear power by 2030, overtaking the USA in the next nine years. In the last twenty years, China has increased its fleet of nuclear power reactors from three to 49, with 17 more plants under construction. That means it will soon surpass France which has 57 reactors. At the rate the USA is closing plants, China may hit the No 1 spot faster than expected.
China has also opened an experimental fusion reactor called the Artificial Sun, while the ITER international consortium keeps delaying the opening of the French fusion experimental reactor.
It is sobering to know that despite the rapid growth of nuclear, it is still only 5% of the total energy supply in China.*
Electricity generation in 2019 increased by 5% compared with the previous year, to 7.3 PWh, according to figures published by the China Electricity Council. That from fossil fuels was 5045 TWh (69%), from hydro 1302 TWh (18%), nuclear 349 TWh (5%), wind 406 TWh (6%) and solar 224 TWh (3%).
In 2012, China became the worlds largest power generator (from all forms of generation). Since then it’s nearly doubled.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that since 2012, China has been the country with the largest installed power capacity, and it has increased this by 85% since then to reach 2011 GWe in 2019, about a quarter of global capacity.
The balance of power is shifting fast:
China has half the capacity of the USA in nuclear power, but it doubled capacity in the last five years while the USA closed 39 reactors:
China Will Lead The World In Nuclear Energy, Along With All Other Energy Sources, Sooner Than You Think
James Conca. Forbes, April 23, 2021
China now leads the world in total energy production and also produces almost twice the amount of electricity that the United States does, 4.4 trillion kWh versus 7.5 trillion kWh per year, respectively. As of this month, China has 49 nuclear reactors in operation with a capacity of 47.5 GW, third only to the United States and France. And 17 under construction with a capacity of 18.5 GW.
This is just about half of the nuclear capacity of the United States which has 94 nuclear reactors in operation with a capacity of 96.5 GW and 2 under construction with a capacity of 2.2 GW. But 39 reactors have been shutdown, many for no particularly good reason.
China is now largely self sufficient in building and operating nuclear plants.
by Gong Zhe, CGTN
China completed research and development on third-generation nuclear power technology called CAP1400 (Guohe One) in September 2020, according to an announcement by State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC). CAP1400 has broken overseas technology monopolies in many areas and owns independent intellectual property and export rights, said Lu Hongzao, assistant general manager of SPIC.
It will be a powerful provider of electricity. “For example, it can provide 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to the grid. So basically it can provide nearly 13 billion kilowatts per hour annually.”
With a design life of 60 years, the CAP1400 nuclear reactor improves safety performance against natural disasters including earthquakes and floods by 100 times, compared with the second-generation version.
In December 2020, China turned on the Artificial Sun in Sichuan province
The group plan to collaborate with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project — which is the worlds largest research project in fusion reactors, sited in France. The total cost of ITER was around $22b, half paid for by the EU and the rest by a consortium of Japan, China, South Korea, the USA and Russia. It was started in 2007 but after many delays and cost overruns, the French fusion reactor is not expected to start operating until 2027, 11 years late. Ain’t that the way?
China turns on nuclear-powered ‘artificial sun’
China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, state media reported Friday, marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source. It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, according to the People’s Daily—approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
The future is surely fusion — one day, though there are many obstacles to overcome.
Australia could use that 300 year supply of coal now, while it’s still worth digging up.
China has a nuclear Belt and Road project too, Argentina, Iran, Pakistan:
Future projects are also being developed in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and South America
Japan Times, 6 Dec 2020
In addition to the construction of plants within the country, China has also increased its presence as a major exporter of nuclear power. In 2013, Beijing set a policy of boosting exports of nuclear reactors as its national strategy, and has been promoting it along with its Belt and Road economic diplomacy initiative.
Since 2013, President Xi Jinping’s administration has been working on creating gigantic nuclear power firms through merging state-owned nuclear enterprises as a part of a national strategy to strengthen global competitiveness of the nation’s nuclear energy industry.
China has also been promoting the development of homegrown nuclear reactors. As well as pressurized water nuclear reactors such as Hualong One, the country is developing a multipurpose small modular reactor, known as ACP100, and a so-called fourth-generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactor and a fourth-generation fast breeder reactor.
Backed by such nuclear technology, China has been actively winning overseas contracts for nuclear power plant construction.
The contracts include China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) signing an agreement in October 2015 to invest in a nuclear construction project at the Hinkley Point site in the United Kingdom, led by French energy group Electricite de France (EDF), followed by another deal between them to build a Hualong One reactor at the Bradwell nuclear site in the U.K.
China also signed a cooperation agreement with Argentina for the construction of a Hualong One reactor in that country and agreed with Iran to offer two nuclear reactors. Another Chinese-designed reactor is under construction in Pakistan.
China is also cooperating on ongoing projects in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America to construct Chinese-developed nuclear reactors and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors.
The growing influence of China as a nuclear exporter is the biggest factor in the structural changes to the international trade of nuclear power plants.
The West, asleep at the Wheel
*Many recent reports suggest nuclear power in China is still only generating 2 or 3% of the total. But the World Nuclear Association seemed to have the most detailed analysis.