China nu­clear power devel­op­ment set to quicken for cleaner growth

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

With the pass­ing of its most en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious five year devel­op­ment roadmap, China looks set for a greener, cleaner fu­ture.

Nu­clear power devel­op­ment was high­lighted as a pri­or­ity in the 13th Five-Year pe­riod (2016-2020), as the re­new­able en­ergy will play an in­te­gral role in the gov­ern­ment's push for greener growth. On Tues­day, China Na­tional Nu­clear Power Co (CNNP) an­nounced it would in­vest 31.4 bil­lion yuan ($4.8 bil­lion) this year into nu­clear power projects.

The com­pany plans to start con­struc­tion on two gen­er­at­ing units this year. Cur­rently, China's en­ergy struc- ture is dom­i­nated by coal, which ac­counts for 64 per­cent of pri­mary en­ergy use, way above the world av­er­age of around 30 per­cent.

The gov­ern­ment aims to in­crease the share of non-fos­sil en­ergy to 15 per­cent by 2020 and 20 per­cent by 2030. In ad­di­tion, coal con­sump­tion will be re­duced to 62 per­cent of en­ergy use by 2020.

To this end, nu­clear power, with its low car­bon emis­sions and high ef­fi­ciency, emerged as the ob­vi­ous choice.

"Nu­clear en­ergy plays an ir­re­place­able role in China's en­ergy se­cu­rity and en­ergy struc­ture op­ti­miza­tion, it is also a so­lu­tion to treat smog," noted He Yu, chair of China General Nu­clear Power Corp (CGN). Cur­rently, China has 30 op­er­a­tional nu­clear power gen­er­at­ing units, with a to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 28.31 GW. It also has 24 units with a to­tal in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 26.72 GW un­der con­struc­tion, rank­ing first in the world. Ac­cord­ing to ear­lier gov­ern­ment plans, China aims to in­crease in­stalled nu­clear power ca­pac­ity to 58 GW, with an ad­di­tional 30 GW un­der con­struc­tion by 2020. That means that around six to eight new gen­er­a­tors need to be put in op­er­a­tion each year from 2016 to 2020.

This fo­cus on nu­clear power devel­op­ment also came as China's en­ergy use is cool­ing amid the eco­nomic slow­down; the per­fect time to in­ten­sify ef­forts to "rev­o­lu­tion­ize" the en­ergy sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to Nur Bekri, head of China's Na­tional En­ergy Ad­min­is­tra­tion. While the ben­e­fits of re­new­able en­ergy are be­yond doubt, safety re­mains a ma­jor is­sue. China's nu­clear power devel­op­ment was put on hold fol­low­ing the Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter in Ja­pan in March 2011. Ap­provals for new nu­clear plants were also sus­pended and a na­tion­wide safety re­view launched af­ter the in­ci­dent, be­fore it was cau­tiously re­sumed in Oc­to­ber 2012.

Fol­low­ing the grad­ual re­sump­tion, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Jan­uary pub­lished a nu­clear white pa­per de­tail­ing poli­cies and mea­sures re­lat­ing to nu­clear emer­gency pre­pared­ness and high­light­ing a "ra­tio­nal, co­or­di­nated and bal­anced" ap­proach to nu­clear se­cu­rity.

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