China’s nuclear power industry has moved into a new phase over the last five years, with the country strengthening efforts to develop independent technology through innovation while also improving safety standards, experts said on Monday.
The number of nuclear power plants that are in operation in the Chinese mainland has reached 36, ranking fourth globally, and China’s total installed capacity of nuclear power is 56.9 million kilowatts, according to a report by news.cctv.com in August.
Also, 20 nuclear power plants are under construction in the mainland and 10 of them have adopted China-designed third-generation nuclear power technology, the report noted.
In the 2012-17 period, nuclear power projects built in China accounted for more than 90 percent of the world’s new project construction in the nuclear sector, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.
“China’s nuclear power technology has achieved comprehensive development in the past five years and has risen to the highest global level,” said Han Xiaoping, chief analyst at energy website china5e.com.
Han told the Global Times on Monday that the independent development and research going into the third-generation reactor technology, or Hualong One technology, could represent the future of the global nuclear power industry.
The construction of China’s first pilot nuclear power project using Hualong One technology was completed in May, and Hualong One is already building influence in the global market.
The containment dome for the K2 project of Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant using Hualong One was successfully installed on Friday, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in a post on its website on Monday.
Chinese nuclear power technologies and investment are now sought after by countries and regions across the globe that are considering low-carbon alternatives to coal, experts said.
Apart from Pakistan, China’s nuclear power industry has seen growth in countries like the UK and Argentina, according to Han.
China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) announced In September 2016 that it had signed the final agreements for the Hinkley Point C project in the UK with French energy company EDF and the British government. CGN will fund one-third of the project in return for the chance to build its own design of reactor at another plant in the UK at Bradwell in Essex.
“The cooperation with the UK will boost global recognition of China’s nuclear power technology, which will be widely accepted by other countries and regions,” said Han.
In order to expand its presence in overseas markets, China’s nuclear power industry is expected to further develop its independent technology, and cooperation with countries and regions in the Belt and Road initiative will have great growth potential, said Lin.
The sector is also faced with challenges in going global, as nuclear power projects are capital intensive and the industry is often affected by political issues in some markets, Lin said.
China attached greater importance to industrial safety after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and new laws and rules have been unveiled to guarantee the safety of the country’s nuclear power sector, experts said.
In October 2016, the government announced the drafting of the China nuclear power safety laws, and laws about atomic energy are also being discussed, according to media reports.
After the Fukushima disaster, China reexamined the nuclear power projects that were under construction on the basis of the new safety standards, Han said. “In the next five years, China’s nuclear power sector will put more focus on safety and efficiency.”
The domestic nuclear power sector will see faster growth in the next five years compared with the previous period, Lin forecast, saying that the reduction of overcapacity in the coal power sector and technological progress will be the major driving forces.
Han said that the rapid growth of the nuclear industry will change the power generation model in China as well as help the Chinese market reduce its dependence on coal.
Nuclear power reached a record high of 3.9 percent of China’s total power generation in the first half of this year, the news.cctv.com report said. Experts said the percentage will increase in the future.
Source: Global Times