China gives green light to new nuclear projects


A nuclear power plant is under construction in Haiyang, Shandong Province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Six reactors approved for launch in three cities to support clean energy transition

With future growth in energy supply coming mainly from non-fossil energy in China as the country goes through a green energy transition, nuclear power will be crucial for China to reach its peak carbon target by 2030. , analysts said.

After years of extensive preparation, evaluation and review, approval has been granted to the new nuclear power plant projects identified in the national plans in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province, Haiyang, Shandong Province, and Lufeng, Guangdong, according to a decision taken at the State Council Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

The six units, two for each site, will adopt third-generation nuclear technologies, and it’s the first time China has approved six units at once since 2008, illustrating the government’s determination to gradually develop nuclear power. under the principle of security. , said an analyst.

Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at Sinopec’s Economics and Development Research Institute, said nuclear power, as well as clean coal and gas power, will play a crucial role. to ensure the stability and coherence of a new electricity system dominated by new energies in the country.

“As a non-fossil energy, nuclear energy has further illustrated its strategic importance in the country’s energy mix since the impact of last year’s energy shortage,” he said.

“While European countries are already moving from banning nuclear power to restarting it, and China is also actively developing large-scale wind, solar and hydropower, there is room importance for nuclear energy in the years to come on the world stage”.

Luo believes that China will continue to support nuclear energy as an integral part of its energy supply and that with the political orientation leaning towards nuclear energy, the sector is likely to embrace a period of strategic development in the years to come. to come.

According to the 14th five-year plan (2021-25) on the country’s energy system released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration in March, the government is committed to increasing the installed capacity of nuclear power plants in operation for 70 gigawatts by 2025, compared to 51 GW at the end of 2020.

The country is committed to actively promoting the construction and rational deployment of coastal nuclear projects with emphasis on safety and maintaining a stable pace of construction.

The plan also calls for wider promotion of the use of nuclear energy to heat residential and industrial areas and desalinate seawater, after two cities in China – Haiyang, Shandong Province and Haiyan, Zhejiang – have already achieved commercial nuclear heating in the 2021-2020 period. Heating season 2022.

Demonstration projects of advanced reactor types, including gas-cooled high-temperature reactors, fast reactors, small modular reactors and offshore floating reactors, are expected to be carried out, while the country is also expected to accelerate the digitalization of the energy system. of the country, according to the plan.

China is already the world’s second largest in terms of installed nuclear capacity and production capacity, while also becoming a pioneer in the global nuclear industry with advanced nuclear chain advantages after years of development, said Luo.

Wei Hanyang, electricity market analyst at research firm Bloomberg-NEF, said China’s approval of six new reactors at three sites will boost the local economy, given a significant amount of new investment. estimates reveal that the total investment for each third-generation nuclear unit is about 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion), and the six units are expected to have a total investment of 120 billion yuan. .

“Four of them will adopt CAP1000, a Chinese version of technology imported from the United States, which helps boost China’s upstream industries and research,” Wei said.

“Two other reactors at Lufeng will adopt China’s Hualong One third-generation nuclear reactor technology. Units at this site were previously designed for technology imported from the United States, but it has been delayed for more than a decade and the parties Guangdong stakeholders finally decided to move to China’s own prototype.”

Hualong One is China’s third generation nuclear technology with full intellectual property rights. It is one of the most widely accepted third generation nuclear reactors in today’s global market.

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