Nuclear power industry buoyant

China’s nuclear power industry is in high spirits. The recently published overarching policy framework on carbon peaking and neutrality and the accompanying action plan on carbon peaking both emphasised the “active and orderly development of nuclear power under the premise of ensuring safety.” Following on from the annual government work report published in March, these are the first examples of the government using the word “active” in reference to nuclear power development. 
By this June, China had 51 nuclear power units, accounting for 2.36% of total electricity generating capacity, according to the China Nuclear Energy Association. Nuclear was responsible for generating 5% of China’s electricity in the first half of the year. The association projects that by 2035, the sector will be generating 10%, with a total capacity of 200 GW operating and under construction. It also said that in the coming five years China will build at the pace of eight units per year.
The industry claims nuclear power can serve as a clean and stable baseload power source to replace coal power. However, its “green” status is still in question, and it was not included in China’s green electricity trading trial launched in early September.
Supportive policy signals are nevertheless strong. They are accompanied by the awarding this week of the supreme state science and technology prize to a nuclear scientist who helped develop a high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology, a “fourth-generation technology” already applied in a commercial demonstration project in Shandong – the first of its kind in the world. Other fourth-generation technologies are also being installed or under development elsewhere in China.
Last year, China’s nuclear industry claimed to have reached parity with global nuclear power leaders, when the first China-developed third-generation reactor Hualong One model went online. With the introduction of fourth-generation technologies, the industry in China is now claiming it leads the world.