Energy

China Will Overtake US In Nuclear Power Within 10 Years

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the country with the most nuclear power by 2026, according to a study by analytics firm BMI Research.

The study found that China will triple the amount of nuclear power it generates by 2026. The country plans to do this by spending $570 billion building more than 60 nuclear power plants over the next decade, causing worry among energy experts that the U.S. could be left behind on nuclear power.

“We expect growth to continue and China to emerge as one of the largest nuclear markets globally in terms of total installed capacity over the coming decade, as the huge pipeline of reactors that are planned, proposed or under construction gradually comes online,” Georgina Hayden, head of energy research at BMI, told Bloomberg. “Furthermore, by expanding its own domestic nuclear sector, the country will develop the expertise to export nuclear capabilities and nuclear technology abroad.”

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, spending over a trillion dollars in nuclear investment. A gigawatt of power provides enough energy for roughly 700,000 homes. That means China plans to again double the amount of nuclear power it’s using.

The country also plans to build extremely advanced molten salt reactors. This is a concept America developed, but abandoned in the 1970s, which federal regulations make difficult to re-embrace.

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.

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