Chinese capacity targets set to grow

05 February 2009

China is poised to up its nuclear energy capacity targets to 70 GWe by 2020, according to reports in Chinese state media. The revision is awaiting approval by the State Council.

Qinshan Phase II (CNNC)
Nuclear construction work in China (Image: CNNC)

The 9 GWe capacity of China's 11 operating nuclear power plants currently meets around 2% of the country's electricity demand. At present, China's formal nuclear capacity target for 2020 is 40 GWe, although 2008 projections from the State Energy Bureau (SEB) and the China Electrical Council have put the figure at 50-60 GWe. The target for 2030 is an amazing 160 GWe - roughly equal to the sum of the French and American national fleets, the two current largest.

The latest figure of 70 GWe for 2020 was reported in the English-language China Daily and also in the Chinese-language 21st Century Business Herald, both state-run publications, citing the National Energy Administration (NEA). NEA officials mentioned the possibility of upping the target to 70 GWe late in 2008.

The reports also say that NEA officials have recommended that the current nuclear construction program should be speeded up, with work to start on 16 units totalling over 10 GWe over the next three years. China is currently building some ten reactors - work started on six units in 2008 alone - with many more about to start construction, and it seems likely that the 16 units mentioned in latest reports are included in the construction starts that are already planned. According to 21st Century Business Herald, in addition to the construction starts that are already expected this year, approval has been given for preliminary work on three new inland nuclear power plants at Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi.