China's nuclear industry says it can accelerate expansion plans

The national target is six to eight reactors a year, but that could be raised to 10, said China's top industry body. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China has the capacity to build more nuclear reactors than planned through 2025, the nation's top industry body said in its annual report.

The national target is six to eight reactors a year, but that could be raised to 10, said the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA).

The agency is also advocating bringing more nuclear power inland, including as a backup to China's wind and solar farms in the west, which can generate power only intermittently.

Like many nations, China is wrestling with how to avoid power shortages brought on by extreme weather and high prices.

Nuclear approvals have accelerated this year after a surge in global energy prices. The drought and power crunch in Sichuan province over the summer has only raised the level of concern over the nation's energy security.

China had 51 reactors in operation in 2021, making it the third-largest operator after the United States and France. But the share of nuclear in its power mix is just 5 per cent and a fraction of the amount of coal and gas-power deployed.

China's appetite for nuclear slowed considerably for much of the decade that followed the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which chilled approvals globally.

China's nuclear ambitions are backed by a domestic manufacturing base that can supply 90 per cent of the components used in its newest third-generation reactors, the home-grown Hualong-One and Guohe-One designs, as well as smaller modular reactors.

CNEA also voiced support for locating plants elsewhere in the interior, close to energy-scarce population centres and using river water for cooling needs.

China's reactors have typically been built near the sea, but the amount of coastal land available has dwindled after years of expansion. BLOOMBERG

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