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China’s nuclear expansion to supersede US by 2026

In a recent report release by BMI Research, China’s rapid nuclear expansion will overtake the US as the region with the largest atomic power capacity by 2026.

According to a recent note released by an analyst this week, the world’s second biggest economy will almost triple its nuclear capacity to nearly 100GW by 2026, making it the biggest market globally, Bloomberg reported.

Nuclear expansion plan

The nation added about 8GW of nuclear power last year, boosting its installed capacity to about 34 million kilowatts, according to BMI.

Bloomberg reported: “China has committed to boosting nuclear power, which accounted for about 1.7% of its total generation in 2015, to help reduce reliance on coal, which accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s primary energy.

“The nation has 20 reactors currently under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Another 176 are either planned or proposed, far more than any other nation, according to the World Nuclear Association.”

Georgina Hayden, head of energy and renewable research at BMI, said in an e-mail: “We expect growth to continue and China to emerge as one of the largest nuclear markets globally in terms of total installed capacity over the coming decade, as the huge pipeline of reactors that are planned, proposed or under construction gradually comes online.

‘’Furthermore, by expanding its own domestic nuclear sector, the country will develop the expertise to export nuclear capabilities and nuclear technology abroad.”

Distribution of tech

According to Bloomberg, China General Nuclear Power Corp., together with its fellow state-run nuclear giant China National Nuclear Corp., is seeking to sell and build nuclear power plants across the globe as part of the country’s efforts to export technology and surplus production capacity as it copes with a slowing domestic economy.

BMI noted that coal’s share in the nation’s energy mix will slowly drop to under 54% by 2026 from its current 70%.

“Nuclear additions are unlikely to slow in terms of absolute amount given the urgent priority to shift the generation mix away from thermal coal, today still over two thirds of output,” Joseph Jacobelli, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by e-mail.

“Unlike solar and wind, where the construction cycle is typically short, nuclear’s longer planning and construction timing allows for the nation’s grid to better prepare the network and ensure dispatch and stability.”

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.