China dreams of being the world leader in nuclear energy: The Chinese Nuclear Energy Association plans to build 30 to 40 reactors by 2025. An ambition threatened by the diplomatic tensions at the heart of which the country currently finds itself. Building on the successful start-up of the Taishan reactor in 2019, and its 47 other reactors currently in operation, China intends to swap its place as the first emitter of greenhouse gases against that of the world’s largest producer of nuclear energy. However, at the end of its thirteenth five-year plan (2016-2020), the objective of a nuclear capacity of 58 GW was not achieved. Faced with this failure, Beijing seems determined to accelerate the pace. To carry out its mission, China relies on its flagship reactor: the Hualong-1. A hybrid and sinized version of an American reactor and the French EPR, Hualong-1 is a fully stamped product made in China. “It is the same type of reactor – pressurized water – and the same model as the Westinghouse AP1000 [American nuclear company, editor’s note], except that the components are designed in China” , specifies Professor Grenèche . Today, the Hualong-1 is even poised to compete with the French EPR. With several contracts already signed with Pakistan and Great Britain, it is essential beyond the national territory. And becomes a real spearhead of Chinese technological influence. However, this momentum risks being disturbed by the current diplomatic climate. China’s crackdown in Hong Kong on the one hand, and the Huawei affair on the other, have further worsened China’s relations with its traditional nuclear partners. The American sanctions threaten in particular the projects which involve the company Westinghouse in the country. “Except for a major turning point in current policy, we expect a halt to Westinghouse’s activities in China,” feared Dominique Grenèche. British side, the tensions around the Huawei affair and the reception of Hong Kong exiles cast doubt on the continuation of cooperation with the Hualong One at the Bradwell nuclear site.
Liberation 16th July 2020 read more »
China’s V-shaped rebound is built on Leninist industrial excess and ecological vandalism. Beijing is giving up trying to wean its economy off coal-fired electricity after plans to build 400 nuclear power stations were derailed. China’s return to its worst industrial habits is an environmental disaster. Global Energy Monitor says China is developing 250 gigawatts of new coal-fired plants – twice the entire existing coal power capacity of the EU. It has proposed another 41GW this year and has relaxed its “traffic light” system for limiting permits. The excuse is that the latest plants will displace dirtier facilities but this technology curbs local air pollution much more than carbon emissions. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that China is thumbing its nose at the world and is giving up any serious effort to wean the economy off coal, still generating two-thirds of the country’s power.
Telegraph 17th July 2020 read more »