China’s nuclear generating capacity is set to triple over the next six years, according to an energy development plan published by the State Council.
The State Council published the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan, 2014-2020 on 19 November. The plan aims to cut China’s reliance on coal and promote the use of clean energy.
China currently has 19.1 GWe of installed nuclear generating capacity. According to the plan, this will reach 58 GWe of capacity by 2020, giving China the third largest nuclear generating capacity after the USA and France. In addition, by 2020, China should also have a further 30 GWe or more of new nuclear generating capacity under construction.
The plan calls for the “timely launch” of new nuclear power projects on China’s eastern coast and for feasibility studies for the construction of inland plants. It says that efforts should be focused on promoting the use of large pressurized water reactors (including the AP1000 and CAP1400 designs), high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTRs) and fast reactors.
The plan also says that research should be conducted into fuel reprocessing technology. In addition, it calls for the active promotion of basic research into nuclear power and the research and development of nuclear safety technology. It also says that research should be conducted to “improve the nuclear fuel cycle system.”
Fast reactors – make maximum use of uranium resources by generating a certain amount more fuel than they consume – are seen as the main technology for China’s long-term use of nuclear energy. Under previously announced plans, deployment of PWRs is expected to level off at 200 GWe by around 2040, with the use of fast reactors progressively increasing from 2020 to at least 200 GWe by 2050 and 1400 GWe by 2100.
The plan sets a cap on annual energy consumption at 4.8 billion tonnes of the standard coal equivalent by 2020. This would limit the annual growth rate of primary energy consumption to less than 3.5% per year over the next six years.
Annual coal consumption will be held below 4.2 billion tonnes until 2020, the plan says. Its share of the energy mix will be reduced from the current 67% to 62% by 2020. The plan places responsibility on areas around Beijing, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta to cut their coal consumption in order to reduce air pollution. The share of natural gas, meanwhile, will be raised to over 10%.
Meanwhile, the share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix will increase from 9.8% in 2013 to 15%, according to the plan. Installed capacity of hydro, wind and solar power is expected to reach 350 GWe, 200 GWe and 100 GWe, respectively, by 2020.
Last week, China announced plans to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and “to make best efforts to peak early.” It also intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to some 20% by 2030.