China’s nuclear energy

14 Mar

China has a huge reliance on foreign energy, especially oil, so it seems only logical that a priority should be placed on energy and the development of renewable energy. There is also increasing concerns over air quality, climate change and fossil fuel shortages. It was reported yesterday for example that the company Panasonic “will now pay pollution compensation to its expat workers in China” (France-Preese, 2014).  China’s main energy source is coal and thus is a huge contributor to the green house gases emitted by China. In 2011, Chinese coal available was 22,800 TWh and coal supply in 2009 was 47% of total world coal supply (Zhang, 2011).

Consequently nuclear power has now been looked into as an alternative to coal energy in China, where “most of the mainland electricity is produced from fossil fuels (80% from coal, 2% from oil, 1% from gas in 2006) and hydropower (15%).” (WNA, 2013)

Daojiong (2005) notes that though efforts are being made to quicken the construction of nuclear power, only 1.4% of China’s total power supply is met by nuclear energy, whereas in comparison South Korea has managed to use nuclear energy for 40% of their electricity consumption. The ‘Bulletin of the atomic scientists’ (2013), states how from 2005 to 2011, China rapidly developed its nuclear power capacity.  In 2010 Chinese construction of reactors accounted for more than 60% of new reactor construction worldwide, making the Chinese nuclear industry by far the fastest growing in the world.

China’s rapid nuclear development slowed after the tsunami and earthquake that led to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in March 2011. This was the world’s worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. “Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, China slowed its rapid expansion of nuclear power and undertook a major re-evaluation of safety practices.” (BNA, 2013).

It has recently announced that after the slowdown that took place after Fukushima, China is now back on track to meet and even surpass its 2020 targets for nuclear power and construction on new plants. China may build 20 or more nuclear reactors over the next six years (Wang, 2014)

China now gets less than 2% of its electricity from 17 nuclear reactors (Rochan, 2014) and 31 new units are under construction (Wang, 2014). It seems in the near future China will become increasingly invested and ever more reliant on nuclear energy, while ensuring this energy meets international and Chinese safety standards.

References

France-Preese. A, 2014. “Panasonic to pay expat workers in China pollution compensation”, The Gurdian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/13/panasonic-pay-pollution-expatriate-workers-china[Accessed 14/02/13]

Zhang, Junfeng Jim, and Kirk R. Smith. “Household air pollution from coal and biomass fuels in China: measurements, health impacts, and interventions.” Environmental Health Perspectives 115.6 (2007): 848.

World Nuclear Association, 2013, “Country profiles”, World Nuclear Associations, Available at: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/China–Nuclear-Power/ [Accessed on 14/03/14]

Daojiong, Z. (2005). China’s energy security and it’s international relations. The China and Eurasia forum Quarterly. 3 (3). 39-54

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2013, “China moves cautiously ahead of nuclear energy change”, The Bulletin, Available at: http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/china-moves-cautiously-ahead-nuclear-energy [Accessed on 14/03/14]

Wang. B, 2014, “China is back to raising nuclear energy build targets after lowering them after Fukushima”, Next Big Future, Available at: http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/03/china-is-back-to-raising-nuclear-energy.html [Accessed on 14/03/14]

Rochan. M, 2014, “China on track to beat 2020 nuclear power targets”, International Business Times, Available at: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/china-track-beat-2020-nuclear-power-targets-1440000%5BAccessed on 14/03/14]

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