China: 150 new reactors will be built in 15 years

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Published on 04/11/2021

China plans to build at least 150 new nuclear reactors over the next 15 years, more than the rest of the world in 35 years.

10 new reactors per year, on average.

For reference, the N2 and N03 scenarios recently published by RTE – those which least reduce the share of nuclear power in the electricity mix – are limited to 14 new large reactors in 30 years.

Earlier this year, the government 🇨🇳 designated nuclear power as the only form of energy with specific interim targets in its official five-year plan. The cost of this program is estimated at 440 billion dollars.

The plan is also part of China’s desire to export its nuclear technology to the developing world and beyond, supported by an energy shortage that has highlighted the fragility of other sources.

“Nuclear is the only source of energy that has come out like a champion,” said David Fishman, energy consultant with the Lantau Group.

“It produced all the time, cleanly, and its price hasn’t changed. If the arguments for nuclear power weren’t strong enough already, they are even stronger now. “

China’s ultimate goal is to replace almost all of its 3,000 coal-fired power plants with clean energy by 2060. To make this a reality, wind and solar will play an important role in the energy market. the country’s energy mix.

Nuclear power, which requires more upfront investment but is also more reliable, will come third, according to an assessment last year by researchers at Tsinghua University.

About 70% of the costs of Chinese reactors are covered by loans granted by state banks, at rates well below those that other countries can obtain, says François Morin of the World Nuclear Association.

“People say nuclear is expensive in the West, but they forget to say it is expensive because of the interest rates.”

Bloomberg and the World Nuclear Association estimate that China can build nuclear power plants for around $2,500 to $3,000 per kilowatt installed, or about a third of the cost of recent projects in the United States and France.

China also expects its domestic plans to persuade potential buyers abroad. In 2019, the former chairman of the China National Nuclear Corporation said he could build 30 reactors overseas.