Panicked shoppers thronged supermarket aisles, grabbing bags of salt by the armful. They queued six deep outside wholesalers. Most went home with only one or two bags; the lucky ones managed to snag a five-year supply before stocks ran out. This was China in the days after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, when people in cities up and down the country’s highly populated east coast bought huge quantities of iodized salt in the misguided belief it would protect them from radiation. The 2011 disaster — the worst nuclear accident in 25 years — threw a major wrench into China’s ambitious nuclear plans. It sent authorities scrambling to reassure people that they were not at risk of a similar catastrophe and sparked an immediate moratorium on new power plants. That ban was lifted this year. Now, China is gradually ramping up construction again. With around a dozen nuclear power plants in the works, China will overtake France as the number two producer of atomic energy worldwide within two years. If it continues with its aggressive plan, it will surpass the United States to become number one by 2030. Beijing’s outward enthusiasm for nuclear energy masks a multitude of challenges facing China’s atomic plans. Surveys and protests against proposed nuclear plants suggest ordinary Chinese are a lot less enthusiastic about nuclear power than their leaders are. The potential ramifications of a nuclear disaster in the world’s most populated country are stark, to say nothing of economic or environmental fallout. And while China’s nuclear industry has a strong safety record — and domestic regulations have tightened since Fukushima — some fear corruption and supply line issues could undercut these efforts. Nuclear is also not the attractive clean energy solution it once was. In the years following the Fukushima disaster, renewable energy such as solar and wind have plummeted in price thanks in part to heavy Chinese investment, while new safety standards have driven up the cost of nuclear power.
CNN 13th Oct 2019 read more »
Researchers have found the costs of solar power to be lower than local grid power in all 344 Chinese cities they studied, even without subsidies. And in 76 of those cities, the price of solar power is equal to or below coal-fired power. The competitiveness of solar varies from city to city mostly because of differences in sunlight, coal prices, power market prices and solar investment costs. The researchers, from Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, calculated the costs of large (more than one megawatt) distributed solar power generation – where power is produced at or near the point of use – and compared these with local grid-power prices and the price which coal-fired power generators sell electricity to the grid. (Local grid prices include generating and distribution costs, profits, government funding and surcharges. While generator-side prices entail generation costs and generator’s profit.)
China Dialogue 16th Oct 2019 read more »
China’s first lead-bismuth alloy zero-power reactor – Qixing (Venus) III – achieved first criticality on 9 October, the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) has announced. The milestone marks the start of China’s core physics experiments into liquid metal cooled fast reactors.
World Nuclear News 16th Oct 2019 read more »