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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China to build ANOTHER nuclear reactor in Britain – concern for nuclear regulator

Buy-China-nukes-1China Is Building Britain ANOTHER Nuclear Reactor, Daily Caller ANDREW FOLLETT Energy and Science Reporter  12 Jan 17 Britain’s nuclear regulators are considering whether another Chinese-funded and designed nuclear reactor should be built in Bradwell, Essex.

The reactor would be funded and designed by the state-controlled China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and the French power company Électricité de France (EDF). It could take British authorities up to four years to formally approve or reject the new reactor.

“The robust independence of the UK’s regulators is seen across the world as a key strength for nuclear in Britain,” Zhu Minhong, General Manager of CGN in Britain, told Reuters. “CGN and EDF will bring to this enterprise their joint experience in China, Britain and France over many years.”

The U.K.’s previous attempt to build a nuclear power plant with the exact same Chinese company didn’t got well.

British Prime Minister Theresa May almost cancelled a previous China-backed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point due to its high costs and environmentalist opposition. The U.S. charged the Chinese company behind the Hinkley Point plant with nuclear espionage in August.

A columnist for a Chinese state-run media outlet called May’s reluctance to approve of the Hinkley Point nuclear power project a result of “China-phobia.” CGN agreed to pay about $8 billion of the reactor’s $24 billion dollar cost.

China’s ambassador to Great Britain issued an ultimatum over the delay earlier in August, pointing out Chinese companies have invested more in the U.K. over the past five years than in France, Germany and Italy combined.

EDF agreed in July to build the Hinkley Point nuclear reactors by 2025 after years of delays. If the reactors aren’t built, U.K. taxpayers could be on the hook for $31.6 billion, according to documents released by the government. EDF is still planning to build the reactors, despite the company’s serious financial problems and the fact that the project is below investment grade.

EDF previously delayed making a decision about Hinkley Point several times before finally approving it after already investing $2.85 billion. EDF is more than $40 billion in debt and has a history of abandoning or delaying similar reactors in France…….  http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/10/china-is-building-britain-another-nuclear-reactor/#ixzz4VZwv59yK

January 13, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Global renewable energy market is dominated by China

text-relevantflag-ChinaChina cementing global dominance of renewable energy and technology  It now owns five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms and the largest wind-turbine manufacturer, Guardian, . 6 Jan 17China is cementing its global dominance of renewable energy and supporting technologies, aggressively investing in them both at home and around the globe, leaving countries including the US, UK and Australia at risk of missing the growing market.

A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa) found China’s dominance in renewables is rapidly spreading overseas, with the country accelerating its foreign investment in renewable energy and supporting technologies.

Analysing Chinese foreign investments over US$1bn, Ieefa found 13 in 2016, worth a combined $32bn. That represented a 60% jump over similar investments in 2015.China was already widely recognised as the largest investor in domestic renewable energy, investing $102bn in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance – more than twice that invested domestically by the US and about five times that of the UK.

The big foreign investments in 2016 included two in Australia, two in Germany and two in Brazil, as well as deals in Chile, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam.

  • In Australia, China Light & Power struck a $1.1bn deal, buying power from wind and solar farms.
  • In Chile, Tianqi Lithium spent $2.5bn acquiring a 25% stake of a lithium miner and processor. (Lithium is essential for lithium batteries used in electric vehicles and home battery storage.)
  • In Germany, Beijing Enterprises Holdings Ltd spend $1.6bn on a Waste to Energy development.

The report noted the global expansion cements China’s total domination of renewable energy growth globally. China now owned:

January 7, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

China’s $493 billion plan for renewable energy

text-relevantflag-ChinaChina to spend $493 billion on green power by 2020 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-05/china-to-spend-$493-billion-on-renewable-fuel-by-2020/8164434    China will plough 2.5 trillion yuan ($493 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country’s energy agency says, as the world’s largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.

The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation’s energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power would contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

China’s Green Energy Push

The agency did not disclose more details on where the funds — which equate to about $98 billion each year — would be spent.

The investment reflects Beijing’s continued focus on curbing the use of fossil fuels, which have fostered the country’s economic growth over the past decade, as it ramps up its war on pollution.

Last month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s economic planner, said in its own five-year plan that solar power would receive 1 trillion yuan of spending, as the country seeks to boost capacity by five times.

The spending comes as the cost of building large-scale solar plants has dropped by as much as 40 per cent since 2010. China became the world’s top solar generator last year.

Concerns about the social and economic costs of China’s air pollution have increased as the northern parts of the country, including the capital Beijing, have battled a weeks-long bout of hazardous smog.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

China criticises India’s nuclear weaponry, says Pakistan should have the same nuclear “privileges”

Pak should have privileges as India in nuclear development: Chinese state media   Hindustan Times,  Jan 05, 2017 India has “broken” UN limits on nuclear arms and long-range missiles and Pakistan should also be accorded the same “privilege”, state-run Chinese media said on Thursday as it criticised New Delhi for carrying out Agni-4 and 5 missile tests whose range covers the Chinese mainland.

“India has broken the UN’s limits on its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile,” the ruling Communist Party-run tabloid Global Times said in its editorial.

“The US and some Western countries have also bent the rules on its nuclear plans. New Delhi is no longer satisfied with its nuclear capability and is seeking intercontinental ballistic missiles that can target anywhere in the world and then it can land on an equal footing with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members,” it said.

………At this time, Pakistan should have those privileges in nuclear development that India has,” it said, indicating that China which shared all-weather ties with Islamabad will back it if it develops long-range missiles.

“In general, it is not difficult for India to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles which can cover the whole world. If the UN Security Council has no objection over this, let it be. The range of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles will also see an increase. If the world can adapt to these, China should too,” it said.

The references to violation of UN rules by the daily were significant as the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying while reacting to India’s Agni-5 missile test said on December 27 that ”on whether India can develop this ballistic missile that can carry nuclear weapons, I think relevant resolutions of the UNSC have clear rules”. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pak-should-have-privileges-as-india-in-nuclear-development-chinese-state-media/story-ac8Oad5ab7abln3mfzNlcM.html

January 6, 2017 Posted by | China, India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Renewable energy gives China an opportunity for world business leadership

text-relevantChina is also seeking market dominance in clean energy technology.

The nation’s ambient air pollution and its greenhouse gas emissions would both decline if China could produce more electricity using clean renewables rather than relying on coal. It has been the largest producer of solar photovoltaic cells in the world since 2007, and overtook Germany as the nation with the largest installed photovoltaic capacity in 2015.

As the price of renewable power equipment declines, the law of demand predicts that more U.S. companies will go green.

graph-china-coal-consumption

For China, Climate Change Is No Hoax – It’s a Business and Political Opportunity Desmogblog, , December 31, 2016 By University of Southern California  

In mid-November, while Americans were preoccupied with election returns, China sent some of its clearest signals yet that it will continue to pursue an international leadership role on issues including climate.At an international climate change summit in Marrakech, the Chinese government reasserted its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The government announced that its aggregate emissions will peak by 2030 or earlier, and that its emissions per dollar of economic output will decline sharply.

For 25 years I have taught my economics students that climate change represents the ultimate “free rider problem.” To slow global climate change, we need to reduce aggregate global emissions.

Yet each individual nation’s efforts are too small to “solve” the problem, so it has only weak incentives to take costly mitigation actions, and strong incentives to “free ride” on the benefits of emission reductions by other countries.

From this perspective, President-elect Trump’s pledges to “cancel” the Paris Agreement and dismantle President Obama’s carbon mitigation initiatives follow standard economic logic. If the United States backs out of commitments to reduce national emissions, it still benefits from other countries’ efforts.

Why, then, is China is pressing ahead with low-carbon initiatives?

My research suggests several motives. Chinese leaders want to improve the quality of life in their nation’s cities by reducing air pollution; win large shares of promising export markets for green technologies; and increase China’s “soft power” in international relations.

Taking aggressive action to cut carbon emissions helps China in all three areas.

Reducing Coal’s Cruel Impacts

Much of the staggering rise in China’s carbon dioxide emissions in recent decades came from burning coal to produce electricity for the nation’s industrial sector. While this growth has created millions of jobs and wealth for the nation, coal-fired power plants are major sources of greenhouse gases and conventional air pollutants that affect millions of people.

A large body of research, including joint work by U.S. and Chinese scholars, has demonstrated that air pollution in China causes thousands of premature deaths yearly. Coal also provides winter heating in China’s colder cities. Recent epidemiology research has found that coal use for heating greatly increases fine particulate air pollution, which has raised morbidity and mortality rates.

Using data from around the world, economists have found that when countries develop economically they move up an “energy ladder.”

The richer a country grows, the more likely it is to swap out cheap polluting fuels in favor of cleaner, more expensive fuels. A natural experiment that occurred in Turkey as natural gas pipelines were built throughout the nation between 2001 and 2014 showed as people gained access to natural gas, air quality improved and mortality rates declined.

China has more coal than natural gas resources, but as its citizens grow wealthier, their willingness to pay to avoid pollution increases. This trend will encourage substitution toward cleaner fuels. As such, China’s political leaders will likely prioritize policies that substitute natural gas for coal, which should reduce air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions……….

China is also seeking market dominance in clean energy technology.

The nation’s ambient air pollution and its greenhouse gas emissions would both decline if China could produce more electricity using clean renewables rather than relying on coal. It has been the largest producer of solar photovoltaic cells in the world since 2007, and overtook Germany as the nation with the largest installed photovoltaic capacity in 2015.

U.S industrial regulators have accused China of engaging in predation and dumping low-cost solar panels that compete with U.S products.

But environmentalists should cheer that potential buyers in importing nations now face lower prices — especially global companies like Wal-Mart which are pledging to shrink their carbon footprints. As the price of renewable power equipment declines, the law of demand predicts that more U.S. companies will go green.

There is a key synergy between electric vehicles and green power generation.

As studies have shown, driving an electric vehicle that runs on electricity generated from coal can produce more greenhouse gas emissions than operating a conventional gasoline vehicle. If Chinese exports of electric vehicles and renewable generating technologies lead to their joint adoption by suburbanites, greenhouse gas emissions from both transportation and power generation will fall.

Investing in Soft Power

For decades, the world’s media have portrayed China as a bully and trade cheat abroad and a repressive power at home. In cutting carbon emissions, the Communist Party seeks to boost its own political legitimacy in the international arena as well as with the Chinese people.

By committing to pursue ambitious environmental goals, Chinese leaders hope to signal to both domestic constituents and international actors that China is an international leader and cares about its own people. A “leading nation” plays an active role in international relations, helps to keep the peace and promotes global public goods.

At a time when the United States appears to be stepping back from its leadership role, the CCP may see a chance to fill the vacuum, and make money in the process. https://www.desmogblog.com/2016/12/31/china-climate-change-no-hoax-business-political-opportunity

January 2, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, renewable | Leave a comment

The abandoned remains of China’s secret nuclear city ‘404’

Inside 404: Video footage reveals abandoned buildings inside once-busy nuclear city, news.com.auDECEMBER 28, 2016 CHILLING footage has emerged showing the abandoned remains of a Chinese city used to build nuclear bombs known only as ‘404’.

December 30, 2016 Posted by | China, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

DOME INSTALLED FOR CHINA NUCLEAR PLANT

 http://www.breakbulk.com/dome-installed-china-nuclear-plant/ A 300-ton containment dome has been installed at China’s first, domestically designed nuclear power plant in Fujian province, marking a key development for an effort to export the nation’s nuclear technology worldwide.

The successful lift project at the Fuqing nuclear complex construction site was announced via a news report on state-run CCTV television Nov. 26.

The plant, slated to open in 2020, is one of two being built at Fuqing with the China-designed Hualong One reactor. Two power plants at the Fangchenggang complex in Guangxi province will also use the reactor.

When completed, the report said, the Hualong reactor plants – called Fuqing 5 and Fuqing 6 – will be “significantly larger” than four other plants at the complex sporting reactors jointly designed by China and the French company Areva.

For safety, the report said, the 48-meter-diameter dome installed at Fuqing 5 was built with concrete and a steel alloy that’s six times stronger than regular steel.

Fuqing’s builder China National Nuclear Corp. and Fangchenggang’s builder China General Nuclear Corp. have been marketing the Hualong reactor worldwide. Customers so far include Britain, Pakistan and Argentina.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

China’s global nuclear marketing drive -= now looking to Bulgaria

nuclear-marketing-crapChina eyes nuclear project in Bulgaria http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/china-eyes-nuclear-project-in-bulgaria/ A delegation from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country’s largest state energy company, visited Sofia and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, to possibly resuscitate a shelved nuclear power plant project.The Belene nuclear power plant, situated near the Danube, was frozen in 2012, reportedly due to a lack of funds.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, China, marketing | 1 Comment

New sanctions on North Korea, agreed on by China and USA. Russia delays

China, U.S. agree on new sanctions to punish North Korea for nuclear test, but Russia ‘trying to hold it up’, National Post Michelle Nichols, Reuters | November 24, 2016 UNITED NATIONS — The United States and China have agreed on new U.N. sanctions to impose on North Korea over the nuclear test it conducted in September, but Russia is delaying action on a draft resolution, a senior Security Council diplomat said on Wednesday.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, believed China could persuade Russia to agree to the new sanctions and that the 15-member Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as next week.

Since North Korea’s fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9, the United States and China, a close ally of North Korea, have been negotiating a new draft Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang.

That draft text was recently given to the remaining three permanent council veto powers, Britain, France and Russia.

“The (permanent five members) are getting very close to agreement on a draft resolution,” the diplomat said. “The key thing is that China and the U.S., who have led this, have got to a position that they agree on. So the issue now is Russia…….http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/china-u-s-agree-on-new-sanctions-to-punish-north-korea-for-nuclear-test-but-russia-trying-to-hold-it-up

November 26, 2016 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

China’s ambitious plan, lifting poor communities by means of solar rooftops

Unlike many other developing countries, around 99% of all Chinese households already have access to the grid.

community-solar

Solar PV can help China’s poorest, China Dialogue     23.11.2016 中文版本  In Anhui villages are hooking up to the grid to generate income and power, writes Suzanne Fisher-Murray The residents of Yuexi county, a mountainous area in eastern China, must have thought it was their lucky day when they heard they had been selected for China’s new solar poverty alleviation project.

The 382,000 residents are some of the poorest in the country, living below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan (about US$1 per day). This was the key criteria for their selection in the project, which is part of China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan, the roadmap for the nation’s development from 2016 to 2020.

In 2015, President Xi Jinping announced the Chinese government would eradicate poverty in China by 2020, which requires targeting the country’s 70 million people living below the poverty line. In April, 2015, China’s National Energy Administration released a plan to use solar photovoltaics (PV) to increase the income of 200 million Chinese households within 16 provinces and 271 counties.

The project is being piloted in Yuexi county, Anhui province before being rolled out across the country. Villagers identified as living below the poverty line will have rooftop solar panels rated at 3-5 kilowatts installed on their roofs and become shareholders in village solar power stations with a generating capacity of around 60-100 kilowatts. The aim is for the solar panels to earn each family 3,000 yuan (around US$430) in extra income each year. Local farmers could also earn additional income by leasing out non-arable lands or maintaining the solar farms.

So far, 182 villages (with 30,000 residents) in the county have been identified as eligible for the project. Construction has begun at a staggering pace: 57 solar parks were built in 2015, with the remaining 125 expected to be finished this year.

Unlike many other developing countries, around 99% of all Chinese households already have access to the grid.

Each household will use the solar electricity generated for their own purposes. This will reduce energy bills and any surplus electricity will be sold back to the grid. Families will also have shared ownership of the solar parks, splitting 40% of the profits between them, with the remaining 60% going to pay back loans and park construction fees. This means that once the solar panels are installed, households and villagers could begin to see the benefits quickly.“It will take more time before we know the impact of the project,” warned Yixiong Kang from China Carbon Futures Asset Management Company, which is overseeing the financial and technical aspects of the project.

“But it could have a huge impact. We are talking about the poorest families. They basically have nothing in their houses that use electricity [because they can’t afford to pay the bills].” The extra income they’ll earn could change that. “If you want to change the living standards of people, sometimes it’s not enough to just give them electricity. Electricity – that’s just a power supply. They need greater help,” he added.

Aside from the direct profits, the villagers would also likely benefit from subsidies paid to solar generation projects in China. The rates are set to go down in 2017 due to a solar power generation surplus, but, if paid, will also help increase the villagers’ profits. The village level solar stations will also be part of a Chinese emissions trading programme which is currently being established. The village solar stations that have certified emissions reductions certificates could trade 1000 kWh of their clean energy to replace one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions on the carbon trading scheme.

When China’s national cap-and-trade programme officially launches in 2017 its carbon trading market will be the largest in the world. The sums set to be generated are substantial. By the end of October 2015, China had seven pilot carbon trading markets in seven cities and provinces. The total emissions ‘allowances’ distributed during 2015, said Kang, was the equivalent of 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, with a projected turnover of 1.3 billion yuan (around US$188 million)….https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/9420-Solar-PV-can-help-China-s-poorest

November 24, 2016 Posted by | China, decentralised | Leave a comment

State-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) building floating nuclear reactor

China starts to build its first floating nuclear power reactor for deployment off coast, Times of India, Reuters | Updated: Nov 7, 2016, BEIJING: China has started to build its first floating nuclear power reactor, which it plans to deploy off its coast by the end of the decade.

State-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has begun construction of the ACPR50S reactor, and will acquire the reactor pressure vessel that encloses the reactor core from Dongfang Electric, CGN said in a statement on Friday.

The 200-megawatt reactor will help power offshore facilities in China’s open sea and island reefs, CGN said, adding that offshore energy supply is an issue that China has to overcome in order to become a naval power…….http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-starts-to-build-its-first-floating-nuclear-power-reactor-for-deployment-off-coast/articleshow/55298242.cms

November 11, 2016 Posted by | China, politics, technology | Leave a comment

China now marketing its nukes to Ukraine

Buy-China-nukes-1Energoatom expands cooperation with CNNP, NASA and IDOM Nuclear Services, WNN 08 November 2016 Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has agreed to enhance its cooperation with Chinese, Argentinian and Spanish companies – respectively, China National Nuclear Power (CNNP), Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NASA) and IDOM Nuclear Services………

Energoatom, which is also state-owned, operates four nuclear power plants – Zaporozhe, Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky – which comprise 15 nuclear reactors, including 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe. In July last year, the Ukrainian government approved a pilot project, named the “energy bridge”, to transfer electricity from unit 2 of the Khmelnitsky plant to the European Union.

Representatives from CNNP, which is a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation, presented its strategy to upgrade units at the Tianwan nuclear power plant. Beijing-based CNNP operates 12 nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 9773 MWe……..http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Energoatom-expands-cooperation-with-CNNP-NASA-and-IDOM-Nuclear-Services-08111601.html

November 11, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Warning that a USA strike on North Korea would spark war with China

Atomic-Bomb-SmUS strike on North Korea would spark world war with China, think-tank warns https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2090813/crushing-crazy-kims-nuke-bid-will-spark-war-with-china/
U.S. warned against nuking nutty North Korea because it risked war with neighbouring China
 BY PATRICK KNOX 1st November 2016, 

November 4, 2016 Posted by | China, North Korea, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

China determined to export nuclear expertise: it all hangs on UK Hinkley project

Buy-China-nukes-1Xi says UK nuclear success is crucial, Shanghai Daily, Source: Agencies | November 1, 2016, PRESIDENT Xi Jinping said yesterday China and France should properly implement the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in Britain, the first new UK nuclear power plant for two decades.

Xi made the remarks when meeting with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Chinese and French companies signed the agreement to build an 18 billion pound (US$21.9 billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C during Xi’s state visit to Britain in October last year. The CGN-led Chinese consortium and French company EDF respectively take 33.5 percent and 66.5 percent stakes.

The Hinkley Point project finally got the go-ahead after Britain’s new prime minister Theresa May delayed the deal because of national security concerns.

As part of the agreement, EDF will help CGN to gain a license to build its own nuclear reactor, Hualong, in Britain, whose nuclear regulatory regime is seen as one of the most stringent in the world.

China is keen to establish itself as an exporter of nuclear expertise so successfully building a plant in the UK would open the door to other markets……..

France and China would set up a fund for joint investment in overseas projects, he said yesterday. “Hinkley Point is a very good example of what we’re going to do together, to win contracts in third markets and in all sectors.”

The project to build the UK nuclear power plant station was “a model that we support everywhere, including in Africa and Asia,” he said.

The new joint fund would be set up soon, he said, without giving further details……….

China and France also signed a social insurance agreement yesterday that will exempt company employees assigned to work in each other’s countries from the mandatory social insurance contributions. http://www.shanghaidaily.com/nation/Xi-says-UK-nuclear-success-is-crucial/shdaily.shtml

November 4, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

Meltdown in China’s Nuclear Power Plans

The challenge for the Chinese nuclear industry is to do what no other nuclear industry worldwide has been able to do; to bring the cost of nuclear generation down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables.

If it is unable to do this, China cannot afford to carry on ordering nuclear plants and nuclear will retain a small proportion of the electricity mix. This leaves China’s nuclear export drive in a precarious position.   If it is unable to do this, China cannot afford to carry on ordering nuclear plants.

China has had little export success so far

radiation-sign-sadflag-ChinaChina’s Nuclear Power Plans Melting Down http://thediplomat.com/2016/10/chinas-nuclear-power-plans-melting-down/ China may scale down plans for nuclear power because of slowing demand for electricity and construction setbacks. By Steve Thomas October 29, 2016   For China’s nuclear industry, 2016 has been a frustrating year. So far, construction has started on only one new plant, and its target of bringing 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 seems impossible to meet.

At present, China has 19.3 gigawatts of nuclear supply under construction and a further 31.4 gigawatts already in service. Given that new plants take five years or more to build, the country faces a shortfall of more than seven gigawatts on its target.

All the plants started between 2008 and 2010 are online except for six imported reactors. These include four AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse, based in the United States but owned by Toshiba of Japan, and two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs), developed by Areva, a French multinational group specializing in nuclear power.

The plants are not expected to be completed before 2017 and all will be at least three years late, an unprecedented delay in China’s nuclear history. It would be surprising if China was not disillusioned with its suppliers and their technologies.

Technology Problems

The EPR and AP1000 reactors have been problematic to build. The two EPRs are three to four years late although there is little available information detailing why. Meanwhile, EPR plants in Finland and France, which should have been completed in 2009 and 2012, respectively, will not be online before 2018.

There are no obvious problems that account for the majority of the delays at any of the sites, just a series of quality and planning issues that suggest the complexity of the design makes it difficult to build.

The four AP1000s are also running three to four years late. They are being built by China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC), which has not built reactors before. There is some publicly available information about the problems suffered in China with the AP1000s, including continual design changes by Westinghouse. The reactor coolant pumps and the squib valves, which are essential to prevent accidents, have been particularly problematic, for example.

Still, China is expected to be the first country to complete construction of AP1000 and EPR designs, a scenario it did not expect or want. The government is required to develop and demonstrate test procedures for bringing the plants into service, which could take up to a year. These test procedures are developed by vendors and generally standardized, although national safety regulators must approve them and can add specific requirements.

In 2014, a senior official at China’s nuclear safety regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), complained that only a small number of test procedures had been developed for the AP1000, and no acceptance criteria had been submitted for review. He said the same issues affect the EPR.

China will likely be reluctant to commit to further AP1000s (and the CAP1400, a Chinese design modified from the AP1000) until the first of the Westinghouse designs is in service, passes its acceptance tests, and demonstrates safe, reliable operation. There are no plans to build additional EPR reactors.

In fact, state-owned China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) opted instead to develop medium-sized reactors (1000 megawatts), the ACP1000 and the ACPR1000, respectively, based on Areva’s much older M310 design rather than the EPR.

Challenging Circumstances  The slowdown in electricity demand growth at home has left China with surplus power-generating capacity. Nuclear is now competing against coal plants supplied with cheap fuel. Furthermore, nuclear has a lower priority for dispatch in winter than combined heat and power plants, which warm homes and factories and typically burn coal and gas.

In 2015, nuclear power accounted for only 3 percent of China’s electricity and at any plausible rate of building nuclear plants, it is unlikely that nuclear would achieve more than 10 percent of China’s electricity supply.

This year, one reactor (Hongyanhe 3) in Liaoning, operated for only 987 hours in the first quarter of 2016, just 45 percent of its availability, while reactors in Fujian (Fuqing) and Hainan (Changjiang) were shut down temporarily.

Another challenge is the strain placed on China’s nuclear regulators in the face of such an ambitious target. The NNSA is under particular pressure to oversee the operation of 36 plants and the construction of 20 plants, as well as being the first regulatory authority to review six new designs. Not even the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which monitored standards during the huge build-out of the industry in the 1960s and 1970s, has faced such a workload.

Safety authorities are usually reluctant to appear critical of their international peers but in 2014, a senior French safety regulator described NNSA as “overwhelmed,” and claimed that the storage of components was “not at an adequate level.” A senior official from SNPTC said in 2015: “Our fatal weakness is our management standards are not high enough.” To build up the capabilities to support such a large construction program, a pause in ordering new plants and equipment may be necessary.

Uncertain Future The target of having 58 GW nuclear capacity in service by 2020 is not achievable and, like nuclear capacity targets in the past in China and elsewhere, it will be quietly revised down. The challenge for the Chinese nuclear industry is to do what no other nuclear industry worldwide has been able to do; to bring the cost of nuclear generation down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables.

If it is unable to do this, China cannot afford to carry on ordering nuclear plants and nuclear will retain a small proportion of the electricity mix. This leaves China’s nuclear export drive in a precarious position. Since 2013, China has turned its attention to nuclear export markets, offering apparently strong advantages over its competitors. The Chinese government can call on all the resources of China to offer a package of equipment, construction expertise, finance, and training that none of its rivals, even Russia, can match.

Unlike its competitors, it also has a huge amount of recent construction experience allowing it to supply cheap, good quality equipment. Its attempt to build reactors in the U.K. is an important element to this strategy; convincing an experienced user of nuclear power that a Chinese plant is worth investing in is a strong endorsement of their technology.

Despite these advantages, China has had little export success so far. In part, this is because there are fewer markets open to new nuclear. Such markets are typically found in developing countries where the financial risks are greater, and where governments have tried and failed to launch nuclear power programs themselves.

It seems clear there is a political element to the Chinese nuclear export strategy, which is to gain influence and leverage in the importing countries. However, if the world nuclear market does not pick up soon, the Chinese government may decide to put its formidable resources behind other technologies that would develop influence with less economic risk. If China’s nuclear home market is not flourishing, this decision will be much easier.

Steve Thomas is professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, in London.

This post was originally published by chinadialogue 

October 31, 2016 Posted by | China, politics | Leave a comment