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China Breakthroughs: Nuclear power gets major revival

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

08-22-2017 17:30 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview commentator and editor

The nuclear power industry has received negative publicity from its critics, who warn about the perils of meltdowns and radioactive leaks. Well, the public should fear such incidents, but new technologies and tighter regulations on safety control should ease concerns.

China is now leading the way with bold plans to operate over 110 nuclear reactors by 2030, which could surpass the United States, a country that has around 100 nuclear plants running, but with no plans to construct new ones.

Zhou Dadi, vice director of China Energy Research Society, told FirstPost, "Due to China's mature nuclear technologies and strict safety controls, serious accidents are unlikely to happen."

Making the statement does not infer an accident is impossible, but all Chinese nuclear power firms are working together to prevent nuke catastrophes.

IAEA gives thumbs up

In August to September 2016, China's National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) had permitted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct extensive testing on the country's operational nuclear power plants.

The IAEA had issued an assessment saying China's nuclear sector stands inline with global standards and regulatory framework.

For the past three decades, China's nuclear reactors had maintained safety exceeding Level 2 or higher on a 7-level International and Radiological Event Scale, according to China Daily.

Nonetheless, the IAEA has called for Beijing to increase storage space for solid waste and enhance radioactive pollution controls. China intends to construct five more sites for disposal of solid waste with low and intermediate levels of radioactivity.

Additional underground laboratories will hold highly radioactive waste.

Belt & Road connections

Chinese nuclear firms hope to expand by exporting expertise, equipment and rectors overseas. Meanwhile, China's Belt & Road Initiative (B&R) aims to build infrastructure to boost cross-border trade and investments with nations in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Oceania.

Chinese companies are making tremendous headway to build more railways networks, roads and logistics hubs that can be connected to energy zones where you will find nuclear power plants providing electricity for factories and much more.

China's nuclear companies could generate RMB4 trillion (US$580bn.) in the B&R region alone.

"About 72 countries have been or planning to develop nuclear power, among which 41 are are along the B&R and most of them are still in the earliest stages of nuclear power development," Wang Shoujin, chairman of China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) told China Daily.

Shanghai as nuclear hub

As China's electricity demand soars, Beijing has given high-priority to support renewable, while the country is targeting nuclear energy capacity to reach 58 megawatts by 2020, with 20 nuclear reactors under construction.

As of August 2017, 37 nuclear power plants are fully-operational nationwide with a strategy to designate Shanghai as the world's hub for nuclear power.

Financial Express reports that Shanghai is leading the nation in nuclear technology innovations.

Zheng Ming-guang, deputy general manager of Shanghai-based State Nuclear Power Technology (SNPTC), said the City supports
"research and development (R&D), manufacturing 4th-genration reactors, new types of pressurized water reactors, small reactors, marine nuclear power platforms, special nuclear materials, construction - high-quality test benches and manufacturing chains."

Shanghai plans to open centers for industry cloud, big data, advanced equipment manufacturing, basic science and innovations to spur nuclear technology breakthroughs.

Floating reactors offshore

China is blazing new trails to keep nuclear reactors innovative. Beijing has mapped out plans to construct floating nuclear reactors to provide power to artificial islands, offshore oil & gas rigs and for humanitarian relief efforts amid the aftermath of natural disasters.

As reported by Popular Science, floating reactors positioned on broad-beamed hulls are expected to have 25 percent capacity larger than land-based nuclear plants.

They are mobile and quick-to-install, especially in areas that have endured natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and typhoons.

CNNC has partnered up with shipyards to build 20 floating reactors, known as ACP Modular Reactor, at an estimated cost - US$150 million.

The project would expand to include nuclear-powered civilian ships - icebreakers and expected to enter service by 2020. Thermal output -200 megawatts and electrical output - 60 megawatts.

CNNC has signed an agreement with London-based Lloyd’s Registry for regulator support to develop a 100-megawatt version - ACP100 reactor.

Power for the future

Despite misgivings on nuclear power plants, China will continue to support the sector. When following strict security protocols and staying alert to dangers, incidents can be avoided.

China's surging demand for electricity and reliance on fossil fuels have led to serious pollution problems, while Green Energy, such as wind, solar and hydropower are not always reliable.

The strategic shift towards nuclear power can boost the nation's exports. Chinese companies delivering top-notch expertise and technologies, related to nuclear, can enjoy wide appeal overseas.

Accordingly, Beijing will not abandon nuclear power plants, which could inspire other countries to move in the same direction.


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )


Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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