MIT: China Is Beating America In Nuclear Energy

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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China is getting way ahead of America in nuclear power, according to a study published Monday in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Technology Review.

The MIT Technology Review examined Chinese plans to literally double the amount of nuclear power and the country’s plans to develop and build extremely advanced molten-salt reactors, a concept America developed, but abandoned in the 1970s.

China intends to bring 58 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity into operation by 2020, up from the current capacity of roughly 27 gigawatts, according to World Nuclear News. China plans to follow this up with 150 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2030, according to the World Nuclear Association. In comparison, America currently plans to have 100 gigawatts of nuclear power in 2030.

By 2050, China intends to have more than 350 gigawatts of nuclear power, having spent over a trillion dollars in nuclear investment. A gigawatt of power provides enough energy for roughly 700,000 homes.

China currently operates 30 nuclear reactors, from which it derives 2.5 percent of its electricity. The country plans to build another 24 reactors and will accelerate construction of a large commercial scale reprocessing plant to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

Globally, installed nuclear capacity is expected to grow 60 percent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency, while American capacity will likely only grow by 16 percent over the same time period.

Of the 59 new nuclear reactors under construction worldwide to help meet increasing demand for electricity, only four of them are being built in the America — just enough to compensate for shutting down aging nuclear reactors.

Merely getting regulatory approval to build new reactors can take up to 25 years, while a reactor can be built in merely 10. It took an incredible 43 years to get approval to build America’s newest nuclear reactor due to scandals, red tape and environmental concerns.

The average age for American nuclear reactors is 35, nearly obsolete by modern design standards and near the end of 40-year operating licenses. Sixteen American nuclear reactors are more than 42 years old, according to government data compiled and mapped by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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