China backs nuclear for climate change strategy

04 June 2007

Actively promoting nuclear power plant construction will be part of China's climate change strategy, according to a report by China's National Development and Reform Commission.


China will introduce preferential policies to develop and utilize clean and low carbon energy. However, the report notes the importance of development in China and says that the primary responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies with the developed nations that have been responsible for most of the historic emissions.


The report says that China should actively promote nuclear power plant construction; vigorously develop renewable energy and speed up utilization of coal bed methane.


According to the report, "nuclear power should be regarded as an important component of national energy strategy, hence the proportion of nuclear power in China's national primary energy supply will increase gradually, and construction of nuclear power stations in the coastal regions with faster economic development and heavy electricity load should be expedited."


The report goes on to say that China should "adopt advanced technology to realize independent and domestic construction of large-scale nuclear power stations and improve the overall capacity of nuclear power industry by the principle of self-dependence, international cooperation, technology transfer and promoting independence."


In the longer term China should research and master fast reactor design and its core technology, including nuclear fuel and structural material related technology. China will actively participate in the construction of and research on international thermonuclear fusion experiment reactor (ITER).


While the report sets out ways in which China can reduce the carbon intensity, both through changes to energy production and though measure to improve energy efficiency the importance of industrial development is given a high priority.


The report states that for developing countries with less historical emission and current low per capita emission, their priority is to achieve sustainable development. Ma Kai, chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said that China must "reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection", although he added that China would  "blaze a new path to industrialisation." 


Mainland China has nine nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, a further two units grid connected, four more under construction, and at least four more about to start constuction in 2007. Additional reactors are planned, including to give a fivefold increase in nuclear capacity to 40 GWe by 2020 and then a further three to fourfold increase to 120-160 GWe by 2030.


Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in China information paper

WNN's Agreement Reaches on new Chinese nuclear plant