Full-Steam Ahead: Nuclear Power’s Exponential Growth In Power Hungry China

No country serious about growth, industry and jobs is seriously relying on wind and solar power. China is building coal-fired power plants, hand over fist. And its efforts to build nuclear-powered plants are on the same trajectory.

China Plans To Dominate The Global Nuclear Energy Push
Oil Price
Haley Zaremba
3 June 2020

China has big plans for the nation’s nuclear energy sector. While the nuclear energy targets set by Beijing have been massively delayed, the nation is still on track to take over the global nuclear energy industry over the next ten years. While the devastating spread of COVID-19 in China starting late last year has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the country’s energy industry ambitions, however, the biggest setbacks for the Chinese nuclear energy industry can actually be attributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place in Japan in 2011, which has made it far more difficult and time-intensive to approve new atomic energy projects. A three-year freeze on new nuclear plant approvals only just ended last year, which “has thinned the pipeline for this decade, according to BloombergNEF’s lead nuclear analyst, Chris Gadomski.”

Despite the fact that China will, in all likelihood, miss its target number of 58 gigawatts of nuclear energy by the end of this year, its capacity is still likely to increase exponentially in the coming decade. Researchers from the Chinese government have published numbers that show that the nation’s “nuclear capacity could more than double to 130 gigawatts by 2030” as summarized in a Bloomberg Green article from this week. That being said, the national Chinese energy mix will still “heavily feature coal and other fossil fuels.” In fact, 130 gigawatts of nuclear power only represents 10% of national power generation, but even a proportionately small amount of energy in China makes a big impact on a global scale due to the sheer size of the nation’s energy industry. “Such is China’s heft in energy markets,” Bloomberg Green writes to put it in perspective, “[130 gigawatts of nuclear power] would still save the amount of carbon that Germany emits annually from burning coal, oil, and gas.”

And with this 10%, China will quickly rise through the ranks of the world’s top nuclear energy producers. “GlobalData Plc predicts that China will pass France as the world’s No. 2 nuclear generator in 2022 and claim the top spot from the U.S. four years after that,” says Bloomberg Green. To understand just how big of a deal it is for any country to unseat the United States as the world’s top nuclear energy producer, you have to understand that the U.S. is responsible for fully one-third of the entire world’s nuclear energy supply.

But China is gunning for them. The country already had “almost 49 gigawatts installed as of 2019 and should get into the mid-fifties this year,” reports Bloomberg Green. “At the annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing that ended last week, delegates suggested China should start construction on 6 to 8 reactors a year.” This will also play nicely into China’s post-corona employment initiatives, as “a typical 1-gigawatt reactor could create 50,000 jobs, according to one company official.”

What’s more, the United States’ nuclear energy industry is shrinking. It’s in major trouble and it has been for quite a while. “In the United States, the common sentiment about the nuclear industry is that it is doomed,” Oilprice reported last year. “As cheap natural gas prices out nuclear, more and more plants are going offline, and many of those that are hanging on are doing so in large part thanks to sizeable government subsidies. And then there is the crushing cost of nuclear waste management that is already weighing on taxpayers and will only get worse.”

This week, in a plea for the United States to step up its nuclear efforts to maintain its “atomic edge,” RealClear Energy wrote that “The huge reactors we are used to seeing need to relicense again or they will shutter. While these reactors were initially licensed in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, they are still producing 55 percent of clean energy in America. If that fleet goes, so too does demand for fuel, which led the Administration to establish the Nuclear Fuel Working Group on how to maintain this vital national asset.”

What is certain is that more nuclear energy, from either the U.S. or from China (or from anyone else for that matter), almost unilaterally leads to less reliance on fossil fuels, and therefore fewer greenhouse gas emissions. While spent nuclear fuel most certainly has its own issues and nuclear is not a blameless form of energy production, it does bode well for the climate under any flag.
Oil Price

Where China is thinking (and acting) big when it comes to its nuclear powered future, Britain is determined to reboot its nuclear power industry by thinking small.

Rolls-Royce triggers £250bn nuclear race: Huge boost for economy if UK consortium gets go-ahead to build fleet of mini reactor plants
This is Money
Neil Craven
14 June 2020

A consortium of British businesses led by manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has submitted proposals to Ministers to accelerate the building of a new fleet of mini nuclear reactors in the North of England.

The plans, circulated in Whitehall ‘in the last few weeks’, could see construction of high-tech factories to build the small reactors begin by next year.

The consortium – which includes UK construction and engineering firms Laing O’Rourke, Atkins and BAM Nuttall – would use British intellectual property to build the reactors. It would work with partners from the US, Canada and France.

It has been estimated that exporting small nuclear reactor technology could be worth £250billion to the UK if the programme is successful.

Sources told The Mail on Sunday that the plan is ‘starting to resonate’ in parts of Government because it could boost the economy as the country recovers from the destruction wrought by the pandemic.

Figures last week showed the economy contracted by 20.4 per cent in April and job losses in the travel, hospitality and retail sectors are mounting.

Sixteen Rolls-Royce-backed reactors, each able to power a city the size of Leeds, could be built by 2050. The project would employ 40,000 people.

Hundreds of related jobs would be created this year if the Government gives the green light.

The plan to deliver British-made nuclear reactors would help the Government to meet the UK’s commitment to shift to clean energy by 2050.

It would also appeal to Tory MPs keen to reduce Britain’s reliance on China. Chinese firms are currently appointed to build large nuclear reactors in Britain at locations including Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

However, there are growing concerns among senior Tories about Chinese influence over critical infrastructure in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated his intention to distance the UK from China economically, amid talk of phasing out Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s new 5G mobile internet network.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to announce measures to boost the economy in his mini-Budget next month and in his full-blown recovery Budget pencilled in for the autumn. Formal backing from the Government would propel the project into activity, says Tom Samson, interim chief executive of the consortium.

He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We could be looking at locations and beginning to build factories as soon as next year with modules [to build the reactors] starting to come out of the factories by 2024 or 2025.

‘We’ve got over 100 people today working on the programme. It could generate hundreds more jobs even this year. As soon as we get the signal we’ll be able to start ramping up our activities on engineering, planning and project management.’

The so-called small modular reactors (SMR) would be manufactured piece by piece in factories before being transported to approved sites for assembly. The production line process allows reactors to be built more cheaply. It is understood that the cost of building each one will fall to £1.8billion after the first handful are constructed.

The rollout plans submitted to officials require £500 million of funding with the Government putting up half. That investment would follow an initial outlay of £36 million made last year, with half provided by Government.

Samson said the plan ‘could deliver near-term economic benefits as part of the economic recovery’. He said: ‘We can do a number of things in parallel. We can develop the technology, we can be preparing sites to host the SMR across the UK, we can also look at where the factories could be and start to look at what commitments are needed to commence construction.’

Most of Britain’s eight large-scale nuclear power plants are due to close within a decade. The sites under consideration for the new project include Moorside in Cumbria and Wylfa in North Wales, where plans for future large reactor projects were recently shelved.

Samson said: ‘We want to become a champion of that clean energy space and I think, equally compelling, is the potential to connect the SMR programme to the production of industrial heat applications, synthetic fuels and aviation fuels being deployed in our engines, not just to provide energy into the grid.

‘It’s not unrealistic for us to be focusing on bringing on the first unit by 2029.

‘We need the commitment to signal to the supply chain to get ready, invest and maximise the opportunities for the UK supply chain for equipment, vessels and components from a UK source if we can.’
This is Money

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. 4-th Generation nuclear tend to be high-temperature designs, good for producing industrial steam and industrial heat. Something than wind towers can’t do.

    https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/industry/nuclear-process-heat-for-industry.aspx

    The second use of 4-th generation is going to be recycling spend nuclear fuel. Previous generations only utilized few percent of available energy, and 4-th generation can utilize some of the remaing one.

    With the low cost SMR and multipurpose 4-th generations there’s no space for renewable energy at all.

  2. Jeff Walther says:

    The pervasiveness of anti-nuclear propaganda is simply breath taking. Even in an article that appears favorable to nuclear electricity generation, Oilprice repeats the lies of the anti-nuclear propagandists.

    “And then there is the crushing cost of nuclear waste management that is already weighing on taxpayers and will only get worse.””

    What crushing cost? Not one dime has come out of tax payers pockets. Every nuclear reactor pays a fee on all electricity sold which is dedicated to spent fuel disposal/handling. More than $30 billion has been collected to date. That money was collected by the US gov’t and then later some of it was spent by the US gov’t, but the money came from the nuclear power plants. In fact, the US gov’t still holds a balance of well over $10 billion paid into the fund, and no interest is paid on it, though there should be.

    The fact that the gov’t squandered a large portion of the fund on the Yucca Mountain facitiity and then let anti-nuclear forces strangle it is the not the fault of the nuclear industry. It is a symptom of the gutless and corrupt nature of our politicians.

  3. Colin Megson says:

    £1.8 billion for a 440 MW nuclear power plant (npp) means that 3,200 MW would cost £13 billion, compared to £20 billion for Sizewell C. And, it has a build programme of just 4 years, compared to ‘big nuclear’ taking 8 years.

    ‘Big nuclear’ is dead in the ‘West’; SMRs will be the future workhorses of the nuclear power industry. But if Rolls-Royce think they’re going to get a decent slice of the humongous export market for SMRs, they’re in for a rude awakening.

    GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 npp has its Commercial Operation Date set for 2027, and by 2030, it could be available in the UK at a cost of £587 million for a 300 MW npp, For 3,200 MW, that requires a capital investment of £6.26 billion – less than half in comparison to the R-R npp. Plus, the build programme is just 26 months – no more than the time required for wind or solar projects.

    It should dawn on every pseudo-green fund manager with their pots in intermittents – and sooner rather than later – that, within a year or two, they can ‘earn’ £5.02 for every £1.00 invested in a BWRX-300, compared to £0.70 for every £1.00 invested in the best of intermittent – onshore wind. And, those earnings will start to roll in just as quickly. Search for: “£320 million of capital investment is going into south kyle onshore windfarm right now”

    If I were Tom Samson, I’d be trotting over to Wilmington and negotiating a manufacturing licence for the BWRX-300, to supply everyone of them ‘this side of the pond’.

  4. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    No country serious about growth, industry and jobs is seriously relying on wind and solar power. China is building coal-fired power plants, hand over fist. And its efforts to build nuclear-powered plants are on the same trajectory.

  5. Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

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