Posts tagged ‘Nuclear power’

23/09/2016

A glowing future | The Economist

UPON learning (via a terse government statement) that their bustling port city in eastern China had been tipped as the likely site of a plant to recycle used nuclear fuel, residents of Lianyungang took to the streets last month in their thousands. Police, whose warnings against demonstrations were ignored, deployed with riot gear in large numbers but only scuffled with the protesters, who rallied, chanted and waved banners in the city centre for several days. “No one consulted us about this,” says one woman who participated in the protests. “We love our city. We have very little pollution and we don’t want a nuclear-fuel plant anywhere near us. The government says it is totally safe, but how can they be sure? How can we believe them?” she asks.

Such scepticism is shared by many in Lianyungang, which already hosts a nuclear-power plant (pictured), and elsewhere in China, where the government plans to expand nuclear power massively. China started its first nuclear plant in 1994. There are now 36 reactors in operation, and another 20 under construction (see map). A further four have been approved, and many more are in the planning stages. Only one new plant has been built in America, in contrast, since 1994; four more are under construction. By 2030 China is projected to get 9% of its power from nuclear, up from 2% in 2012. In absolute terms, its nuclear generation capacity will have increased eightfold over the same period, to 750 billion kilowatt-hours a year, roughly America’s current level.

After disaster struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station in 2011, the Chinese authorities briefly halted this pell-mell rush toward the nuclear future, announcing a moratorium on the construction of new plants, urgent safety checks on existing ones and a prolonged policy review to decide whether nuclear power would remain a part of China’s energy strategy. The following year, however, the government resolved to carry on with its nuclear-energy programme.

The need is clear. Despite slowing economic growth, energy consumption per person is projected to rise dramatically, with no plateau in sight before 2030. Pollution from coal-fired power plants, China’s main source of electricity, causes widespread respiratory disease and many premature deaths each year, a source of persistent public anger. China has also made ambitious promises to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. If it hopes to meet such targets, it will need to embrace nuclear, “because the only other truly reliable 24/7 source of electric power is coal,” says Zha Daojiong of Peking University.China’s utilities are also keen. The state-owned firms that run all the country’s nuclear plants are thought to earn a good return on their investment (their accounts are too murky to be certain), in part because their official backing allows them to finance new reactors very cheaply, and in part because regulators have fixed power tariffs in a favourable manner. One estimate put the return on nuclear assets between 2002 and 2012 at 7% a year, compared with 3% for coal- and gas-fired plants.

China even harbours ambitions to export its growing expertise in nuclear power. After relying first on Russian designs, and more recently importing American and French ones, China has also developed indigenous nuclear reactors. A recently approved deal with Britain, valued at $23 billion, will see China help finance a French-designed nuclear-power station and possibly build one of its own design later.

But China’s nuclear push has its critics. These include those who live near proposed nuclear facilities. Many, like the protesters in Lianyungang, are happy to have the power they need to run their air-conditioners but want to keep the unpleasant parts of the operation far from their doorsteps. Chinese now has a word for NIMBY: linbi, a fusion of the words for “adjacent” and “shun”. The government has repeatedly backed down in the face of public demonstrations, twice agreeing to relocate a uranium-enrichment plant, for example. It has also put the decision about the reprocessing plant in Lianyungang on hold.

Yet attitudes to nuclear power may be less hostile than in many Western countries. A study published in 2013 found an even split between supporters and opponents of expanding China’s nuclear-power industry. Compared with their counterparts in the rich world, Chinese citizens showed much greater “trust and confidence in the government” as the manager of nuclear policy and operations, the emergency responder in case of accidents and the provider of reliable information about the industry. The lead researcher for that study, He Guizhen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says that even protesters like those in Lianyungang are not implacably opposed. “Their message is not really that you can’t build these things no matter what, but that we are concerned about safety, especially after Fukushima, and we demand that you take safety seriously,” she says.

It appears this message is getting through. Early this year the government acknowledged in a white paper that its system for responding to a nuclear accident had “certain inadequacies”. In April officials revealed plans to draft a national nuclear-safety law. In May officials announced 600m yuan ($91m) in funding for six new nuclear-emergency squads, which would be ready for action by 2018. In August—on the same day that protesters marched in Lianyungang—China conducted its first “comprehensive nuclear-security emergency drill”. This week the government said officials must consult locals before settling the location of new nuclear facilities.

Deborah Seligsohn of the University of California, San Diego, says that because China’s nuclear-power industry is centrally run and limited to a handful of companies, authorities are able to keep tight control over safety standards, and that they have not hesitated to slow projects down when seeing signs of strain. Supervision, however, falls to several different agencies and levels of the bureaucracy. The burden of inspecting and managing the growing number of plants, she says, could be better handled by a more independent regulator in charge of its own budget.

In July China Energy News, a newspaper, reported that “quality problems” with domestically manufactured pump-valves were forcing some plants to shut down unexpectedly. (Most plants have since switched to imported valves.) More alarmingly, regulators this month revealed that a radiation-monitoring system at the Daya Bay nuclear-power station, which is within 50km of the huge cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, had been turned off inadvertently for three months before anyone noticed. Since no radiation leaked, the government deemed the oversight an event of “no safety significance”—one of several such lapses this year. The residents of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, presumably, would not see it in quite the same way.

Source: A glowing future | The Economist

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15/09/2016

Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

The British government said on Thursday it was giving the green light to a controversial new nuclear project at Hinkley Point after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the proposals for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the government’s agreement,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said in a statement.

Beijing calls for British nuclear project financially backed by China to proceed.

“Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.”

The board of French state-owned power company EDF approved its participation in the project in southwest England on July 28, only for Britain’s new government under May to announce hours later that it wanted to review it.China has a one-third stake in Hinkley Point and analysts have warned that Britain would have risked its relations with the world’s second-largest economy if it cancelled the costly deal.

Source: Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

24/02/2016

China Inc.’s Nuclear-Power Push – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China wants to shift from customer to competitor in the global nuclear industry as it seeks to roll out its first advanced reactor for export, a move that adds new competition for already struggling global firms.

As WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports:

  • Two state-owned firms teamed up to design the advanced indigenous Hualong One reactor with plans to sell overseas. On Tuesday, one of them, China General Nuclear Power Group, hosted dozens of business executives from Kenya, Russia, Indonesia and elsewhere, as well as diplomats and journalists, at its Daya Bay nuclear-power station to promote the Hualong One for export.
  • Asked how much of the global market share for new nuclear reactors CGN wants Hualong One to win, Zheng Dongshan, CGN’s deputy general manager in charge of international business, said: “The more the better.”
  • The move marks a turnaround for China and the nuclear-power industry. For three decades, China served as a big market for nuclear giants including U.S.-based, Japanese-owned Westinghouse Electric Co. and France’s Areva SA. More than 30 reactors have been built across China since the 1990s with reliance on foreign design and technology.

Source: China Inc.’s Nuclear-Power Push – China Real Time Report – WSJ

21/05/2015

China’s nuclear power capacity to reach 30m kilowatts by year end|Society|chinadaily.com.cn

China will have 30 million kilowatts (KW) of nuclear power capacity by the end of 2015, said Xu Yuming, deputy director of the China Nuclear Energy Association on Thursday.

Currently there are 23 nuclear power units operating in China, with a combined capacity of 21.4 million kilowatts. Twenty-nine units are being built or planned, Xu said.

The government plans to increase China’s total nuclear power capacity to 58 million kilowatts by 2020, a rise of 170 percent over the current level.

Xu estimates that this will require 100 billion yuan ($16.34 billion) of investment every year.

It is expected that China’s electricity usage will double by 2030, Xu said, adding efforts should be made to promote clean energy including nuclear power.

Last month, China approved the construction of pilot nuclear power units using the Hualong One technology, a domestically-developed third generation reactor design drawing on the world’s leading design philosophy. The homegrown technology will help contribute to industrial upgrades and steady economic growth.

via China’s nuclear power capacity to reach 30m kilowatts by year end|Society|chinadaily.com.cn.

11/03/2015

Nuclear Power Gains Traction in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s government is breathing life into its nuclear sector with the approval of the country’s first new reactors in more than two years. As the WSJ’s Brian Spegele reports:

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic-planning agency, approved construction of two reactors in the country’s northeastern Liaoning province by state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp., according to a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by the company’s listed unit, CGN Power Co.

China is the world’s biggest nuclear growth market. The country operates 24 reactors currently. A further 25 are under construction, out of 68 globally, according to the IAEA. China doesn’t disclose total spending, but based on the cost of reactors, its buildout represents tens of billions of dollars in potential new business for Chinese and foreign companies over the coming decade.

via Nuclear Power Gains Traction in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

19/11/2014

More nuclear plants and renewable energy under new development plan | South China Morning Post

China will boost oil exploration, use less coal and more natural gas, build more nuclear plants and develop renewable energy under a new seven-year development plan.

nuclear.jpg

The State Council’s newly released plans for 2014-2020 marks the latest attempt by policymakers to limit the nation’s appetite for energy. Reflecting its rapid industrialisation and economic growth, China has become a voracious consumer of energy, changing global energy markets and the geopolitics of energy security.

The document sets out five strategic tasks for the nation’s energy development. The first is to achieve greater energy independence by promoting clean and efficient use of coal, increasing domestic oil production, and developing renewable energy .

China plans to develop new and existing oilfields in nine regions where it has large proven reserves – including in the northwestern, central and northeastern provinces as well as offshore fields in the Bohai Gulf and the East and South China seas.

The plan also calls for boosting offshore oil exploration though improved exploration trace analysis, promoting deep-sea bidding from foreign corporations to develop offshore sites and greater research and development in deep-sea oil discovery technology and equipment.

The plan’s second task is to curb excessive energy consumption and implement energy-efficiency programmes in urban and rural areas. The third task builds on this goal by cutting the proportion of coal used in the nation’s energy production while using more natural gas, nuclear power and renewable energy. The plan calls for more nuclear plants to be built along the coast “at a suitable time” while also studying the feasibility of inland nuclear plants.

The fourth task is to expand international cooperation in energy, establish regional markets and participate in global energy governance. The fifth is to promote innovation in energy-related technology.

via More nuclear plants and renewable energy under new development plan | South China Morning Post.

18/09/2014

India to hold talks with China on civil nuclear cooperation | Reuters

India will open talks on civil nuclear energy cooperation with China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday after summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in New Delhi.

The announcement, part of the new government’s push to broaden its nuclear energy sector, comes on the heels of a deal India struck this month to buy uranium from Australia to increase its fuel supplies.

“We will begin the process of discussions on civil nuclear energy cooperation that will bolster our broader cooperation on energy security,” Modi said in a statement, with Xi beside him, at a news conference.

Ahead of Xi’s visit, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters that China had a “positive attitude” towards nuclear cooperation with India, but offered no details.

Behind the scenes, China has been pressing India hard to begin talks on civil nuclear cooperation, said W.P.S. Sidhu, a senior fellow at Brookings India.

Any deal for India to buy civil nuclear reactors from China may take years, but both countries benefit by starting the conversation, said Sidhu.

“It’s a way for India to explore other options,” he said.

via India to hold talks with China on civil nuclear cooperation | Reuters.

23/04/2014

Energy-Hungry China Plans to Accelerate Approvals for New Nuclear Reactors – Businessweek

China slowed down the approval process for new nuclear power plants in the wake of Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster. Now it intends to speed things up again.

The construction site of the No. 2 reactor at the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant on Hainan Island, China, on Sept. 25, 2012

On Friday, China’s State Energy Commission met in Beijing to review energy forecasts and discuss safety considerations regarding nuclear power. According to a statement released on the commission’s website on Sunday, it now intends to expedite the approval process for new reactors in China.

In 2013, China approved the construction of just two new nuclear reactors, with a combined generating capacity of 2.1 gigawatts. This year, it intends to green-light another 8.6 GW of nuclear energy, according to an article in Monday’s state-run China Daily newspaper.

via Energy-Hungry China Plans to Accelerate Approvals for New Nuclear Reactors – Businessweek.

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24/12/2013

China commits $6.5 billion for Pakistani nuclear project | Reuters

China has committed $6.5 billion to finance the construction of a major nuclear power project in Pakistan\’s port city of Karachi as it seeks to strengthen ties with its strategic partner, Pakistani officials said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif broke ground on the $9.59 billion project last month but officials have provided few details of how they plan to finance it.

Financing documents seen by Reuters showed China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC) has promised to grant a loan of at least $6.5 billion to finance the project which will have two reactors with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts each.

via Exclusive: China commits $6.5 billion for Pakistani nuclear project | Reuters.

25/04/2013

* China moves cautiously ahead on nuclear energy

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “From 2005 to 2011, China rapidly developed its nuclear power capacity. In 2010 alone, it began operations at two new reactors and broke ground on 10 more, accounting for more than 60 percent of new reactor construction worldwide and making the Chinese nuclear industry by far the fastest-growing in the world. By the end of 2010, China had 14 nuclear reactors in operation with a total capacity of about 11 gigawatts electric, or GWe. That was still a relatively small amount — in contrast, the United States had 104 commercial reactors with a total capacity of about 100 GWe in 2010 — but China was pursuing ambitious plans to rapidly expand.

China Nuclear Energy

Then came the tsunami and earthquake that led to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in March 2011, the world’s worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. After Fukushima, China changed course dramatically, slowing the pace of nuclear development to focus on safety. The slower pace is reassuring, but to really be a leader on nuclear safety, China should speed up the adoption of new laws on nuclear energy and enhance the independence and authority of nuclear safety regulators.

Putting the Brakes On. According to a government plan issued in 2007, China planned to install a total nuclear capacity of 40 GWe by 2020, which would account for about 3 percent of electricity generation nationwide. Many officials and experts expected that the number would actually increase further, to more than 80 GWe.

In its initial, March 2011 reaction to Fukushima, though, China’s State Council, the nation’s governing body, decided to suspend approval of new nuclear power stations, conduct comprehensive safety inspections of existing plants, and review all nuclear projects including those under construction. In October 2012, after concluding the inspections and reviews, the State Council issued a new plan that represents a serious and cautious reevaluation of safety issues and the pace of development. Called the Medium- and Long-term Nuclear Power Development Plan (2011-2020), its proposals include:

A return to normal construction at a controlled and orderly pace.

Permission for a limited number of new nuclear power reactors to be built in coastal sites that have been comprehensively evaluated.

A ban on new inland nuclear power projects, because the government fears a shortage of cooling water should accidents occur at such plants.

A requirement that all new projects meet the safety standards of the world’s most advanced nuclear reactors, known as third generation or Gen III reactors. Compared to earlier technology, these new designs incorporate improved fuel technology, superior thermal efficiency, passive rather than active safety systems, and standardized designs aimed at reducing maintenance and capital costs.

Based on the new plan, China will only approve a few new reactor construction projects before 2016. China now expects to grow its total nuclear capacity to 58 GWe by 2020, rather than the more than 80 GWe previously expected.

The government resumed approval of new nuclear power projects in December 2012, just as the new plan was issued. Several inland nuclear power projects where significant preparation work had already begun will be suspended, with some of their equipment likely transferred to coastal sites. While the pace of Chinese nuclear development will slow in the near term, the country’s long-term goals haven’t changed significantly. China continues to emphasize nuclear power as a crucial part of its energy mix. A government white paper issued in October 2012 observed that “as nuclear power is a high-quality, clean, and efficient modern energy resource, its development is of great importance for optimizing the nation’s energy structure and ensuring national energy security.” The white paper put China’s nuclear energy target at 40 GWe by 2015.”

via China moves cautiously ahead on nuclear energy | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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