Atomic energy has much room to play

Updated: 2007-05-05 10:32

The successful commissioning nearly 16 years ago of a 300 MW nuclear reactor in Qinshan, east China's Zhejiang Province marked the birth of the country's nuclear power industry. Development of the technology began actually earlier, dating back to the late 1970s.

In the period between 1995 and 2005, China's nuclear power generation outpaced all other forms of energy in growth, by an annual average of 15.3 percent against the average 9.5 percent for total energy.

In spite of that, the existing nine reactors in commercial operation, totaling 6,990 MW in capacity, account for only 1.6 percent of China's total power generating capacity. Nuclear power production stood at 54.3 billion KWH last year, 1.92 percent of the total electricity output.

At an international energy forum held in May 2006 in Beijing, Zhang Guobao, a high-ranking energy official, said China would rely on domestic supply to meet its steadily growing energy demand. Commenting on the small share of nuclear power, he said, "there's much room for development." The official document for China's 11th Five-Year Development Program (2006-2010) uses the word "actively" to describe expected development of nuclear power in the period.

The word used in the preceding plan was "moderately". This reflected a change of China's energy strategy. Regarded as a clean, alternative solution to growing energy demand, Beijing decided to give the nuclear sector a boost by targeting an installation of 40,000 MW by the end of 2020, which would account for 4 percent of total capacity.

China developed independently the first 300 MW pressurized water reactor adopted by Qinshan Phase-1 plant. The facility enjoys a good running record and the proven technology was exported to Pakistan. Larger units, known as models CNP600 and CNP1000, have also been developed.

Two 600 MW pressurized water reactors are currently operating in Qinshan Phase-2 plant. Construction is underway on two 650 MW reactors for an expansion of the same project. They are scheduled for commissioning in 2011.

Site is selected at Fangjiashan, Zhejiang for the first CNP1000 nuclear reactor. The designed service period of the 1,000 MW unit reaches 60 years. "Its conditions of safeness, reliability and cost-efficiency are further improved, "said Kang Rixin, GM of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

A number of China's nuclear projects adopted foreign technologies. The Dayawan nuclear power plant in south China's Guangdong Province has two 1,000 MW pressurized water reactors introduced from France. Qinshan phase-3 project imported two Canadian 700 MW heavy water reactors.

Tianwan in east China's Jiangsu Province is constructing two 1,060 MW AES-91 pressurized water reactors supplied by Russia. In December 2006 China announced the purchase of four 3G AP1000 reactors from US-based Westinghouse Electric Company. Work was kicked off in late 2006 for the construction of a 200 MW high temperature gas-cooled reactor in Shidaowan, Shandong.


Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours