May 3, 2009
China’s Nuclear Construction Spree
China’s nuclear power sector will triple in size over the next decade. According to the latest data from the National Energy Administration, China will activate 24 new reactors by 2020. That new capacity should allow the country to more than quadruple the quantity of electricity it generates from fission.
With 11 reactors now in place, China has about 9.1 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. Within a decade, that capacity is expected to hit 40 GW, thereby doubling nuclear’s share of the Chinese electric market from 2 percent to 4 percent.
The latest units being built are at the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant in Zhejiang province. The three-phase scheme, with an investment of more than $5.9 billion earmarked for the first phase, will incorporate the application of the third-generation pressurized water reactor technology AP1000 introduced from US-based Westinghouse. The first phase project will include two units each with a generating capacity of 1.25 GW, which are slated for completion in 2013 and 2014. Additional reactor projects will begin construction this year, all of which will be located in coastal areas.
According to Qian Zhimin, the chairman of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC), the Chinese government will issue licenses this year to construct another four or eight reactors, making China the world leader in volume of nuclear power stations under construction.
To promote the nuclear power sector, Chinese nuclear entities are aggressively working with their overseas partners. In late April, Kazakh national nuclear company Kazatomprom and CGNPC agreed to set up a joint venture to construct nuclear power stations in China. The Kazakh company will supply China with some 24,000 tons of uranium by 2020.