31 October 2012 – China’s nuclear power output will soar before the end of the decade, but will remain in the shadow of steady US growth, according to energy expert GlobalData. The business intelligence outfit’s latest research says that China’s need to meet the power demands of rapid industrialisation will result in the dramatic expansion of the country’s nuclear power industry, climbing from 87 terawatt hours (TWh) generated in 2011 to 470 TWh by 2020.

Nuclear power Germany

The increase will see China make up approximately half of the Asia-Pacific region’s cumulative output and overtake more notoriously nuclear power dependent countries, such as France (predicted to produce 457 TWh in 2020). At present there are 15 nuclear reactors in operation in China, but another 27 are under construction and more than 160 are in the planning and proposal stages.

“The Chinese government is going full steam with its nuclear power commitments, as shown by lifting its moratorium on new nuclear power plant projects and its approval to proceed with the IPO of China Nuclear Power Corporation,” Jennifer Santos, senior consultant for power and utilities at GlobalData, says.“This commitment to ramp-up its nuclear power capacity will bring China closer to achieving its environmental goals,” she adds.

Comparatively, however, the US will remain the world’s number one nuclear energy generator by some margin. The US is producing 790 TWh from its 104 operational reactors, but with the addition of a further six currently being built, and over 30 more potentially on the way, this figure is expected to touch 988 TWh by the end of the decade.

By region, GlobalData expects Europe to continue to lead in terms of nuclear power generation (despite the commitment of several member states to phase-out the power source) with an estimated output of 1,277 TWh in 2020. North America is expected to be second, producing 1,088 TWh, followed by Asia-Pacific with 941 TWh.