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Wed Jun 27, 2012, 07:23 PM

Chinese Government Divided on Long-Term Future of Nuclear Power


June 4, 2012
Chinese Government Divided on Long-Term Future of Nuclear Power
by Gregory Kulacki

On May 31 China’s State Council met to discuss a report on the long-term future of nuclear energy in China. The meeting ended without an agreement, although tentative recommendations are being circulated for further review and discussion.

Before the nuclear accident in Fukushima Japan, Chinese planners were bullish on the future of nuclear power. Concerns about carbon emissions, the need for economic stimulus, deregulation in the energy sector, and a voracious appetite for electric power combined to push the Chinese government to approve plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear energy. In 2007, before the global financial crisis, national plans called for an installed capacity of 40 GWe by 2020. By the end of 2010, when Chinese government stimulus plans reached a peak, that number had more than doubled to 100 GWe by 2020. China currently has only 16 operating nuclear reactors with a capacity to produce approximately 11 GWe. (By comparison, the US has 104 operating reactors with a capacity of about 100 GWe.)

Immediately following the accident at Fukushima, Premier Wen Jiabao announced a suspension of China’s expansion plans, ordered a comprehensive safety review of all existing plants and those under construction, as well as a freeze on new construction and applications for new plants.


Chinese nuclear industry representatives interviewed after the May 31 meeting said they were hoping for a 2020 planning target of 80 GWe but were told that was excessive, given the state of the political leadership’s concerns about the safety of nuclear energy at this time. It also appears possible that no new nuclear plants will be constructed before 2020 in the less developed ”interior regions” of China. One Chinese nuclear energy official estimated the possibility as “close to zero”. All new nuclear plant construction will be confined to the more highly developed coastal areas. If true, this would be a major change in Chinese nuclear energy policy.

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Reply Chinese Government Divided on Long-Term Future of Nuclear Power (Original post)
bananas Jun 2012 OP
madokie Jun 2012 #1
kristopher Jun 2012 #2
kristopher Jun 2012 #3

Response to bananas (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 02:55 AM

1. I remember not too long ago when some posters in this forum was blowing and a going

about how smart the Chinese were cause they were building all these nuclear power plants. Yet this post has not one howler yet having a go at why this change of heart of theirs is bad.
What gives?
Nuclear energy is neither safe, cheap nor a sane way to make our electricity, no matter where they're located in what country. Hell when something happens the industry has no idea as to how to deal with it. Sticking heads in the sand or up their asses is not a plan.

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Response to bananas (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 01:23 PM

2. Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences: “China must alter nuclear policy" (Too risky to justify)

Editor’s note: On June 23 this year, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the China Science Media Centre held a seminar on nuclear solutions and challenges in Beijing. Speaking at the event, He Zuoxiu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and a researcher at the CAS Institute of Theoretical Physics, fiercely criticised China’s “Great Leap Forward” in nuclear development. An edited extract of his presentation is, with He’s permission, made public for the first time here in two parts. In part one, He outlines three lessons he believes China must take from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

“China must alter nuclear policy” (1)
He Zuoxiu
October 12, 2011

Important lesson from Fukushima 1: China must immediately halt its plans for a nuclear “Great Leap Forward”, formulated by a small number of people behind closed doors.

Let’s take a look at China’s planned nuclear “Great Leap Forward”. Today, China has 11 reactors in operation, generating 9 gigawatts of electricity. Twenty-six more are under construction and will generate 28 gigawatts of electricity. The National Energy Administration and Chinese Academy of Engineering are working on targets which will see 70 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity by 2020, 200 gigawatts by 2030, and 400 to 500 gigawatts by 2050. Nuclear power will gradually become one of China’s main energy sources.

Globally, there are over 400 reactors up and running, generating 400 gigawatts of electricity. Over the next 10 to 40 years, China aims to match, or even exceed that total.

The United States is an example of a nation that rapidly developed nuclear power (although, after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, it drastically reduced the pace of nuclear development.) Today, the United States has 100 gigawatts of nuclear-generating capacity, and remains the world leader. Within 40 years, China plans to have four to five times the generating capacity of the United States. My question is: has China made the necessary preparations to undertake this “Great Leap Forward”?



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Response to bananas (Original post)

Thu Jun 28, 2012, 11:14 PM

3. “China must alter nuclear policy” (2)

“China must alter nuclear policy” (2)
He Zuoxiu
October 12, 2011

China not only needs to guarantee the absolute, long-term safety of existing and new nuclear power plants to avoid a Fukushima-style disaster, it also needs to find ways of dealing with the large quantities of highly radioactive waste its reactors produce. This waste must not be allowed to pollute the environment or groundwater over its lifespan (which could be thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years).

It needs stating from the outset that, when talking about the paramount importance of nuclear safety, I am not focusing on the number of fatalities in the immediate aftermath of an accident. People who compare these figures to the numbers of people killed in airplane or car crashes are missing the point: a nuclear accident could affect the environment of future generations for tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years.

Experts who base pro-nuclear arguments on the fact the number of deaths per terawatt-year (a unit for measuring produced energy, electricity and heat) are among the lowest for nuclear power – only eight compared to 342 for coal, 85 for natural gas and 883 for hydropower according to statistics from the International Atomic Energy Agency – should be criticised. They are making the wrong comparison.

In the United States, government policy has so far failed to deal with the waste issue. For many years, the US has converted nuclear waste into solid form, placed it in stainless-steel containers, and buried it. But available storage space is dwindling, while the country still has almost 80,000 tonnes of waste material waiting to be dealt with.

In France and the United Kingdom...


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