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China Considering 20-Fold Increase in Nuclear Power by End of 2030

27 May 2007

Yomiuri Shimbun. The Chinese government plans to boost the country’s nuclear power generation capability by between 15 and 20 times its current level by the end of 2030, according to a speech made by a Chinese official close to the plan.

Currently, China has 10 nuclear reactors, which are capable of generating 8 million kilowatts. The National Development and Reform Commission, which administers China’s energy policy, plans to increase nuclear power generation to between 120 million and 160 million kilowatts, according to the official.

China has previously announced that it wanted to up nuclear power output to 40 million kilowatts by the end of 2020. To attain its goal under the new plan, China would need to build in excess of 100 nuclear reactors, each capable of generating 1 million kilowatts, over 20 years.

If the plan is realized, China would become the world’s largest generator of nuclear power, surpassing Japan, France and the United States.

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This Chinese apparently have recognized that they will have to curtail there equally ambitious coal power generation plans. Anticipated world pressure to curb their CO2 emissions plus the local pollution problems are probably the drivers here.
My hat is off to the Chinese if they can pull this plan off without compromising safety.

Good for them - they should generate all their base load power from Nukes. I would agree that they will have to maintain safety, but they will have seen the devastation that followed Chernobyl, so I imagine they will be very careful.
I guess the main thing is to get a standard reactor design and stick with it, only introducing new generations every decade or so.
I am sure we would all love to do it all with wind and PV, but the numbers do not stack up. You need a base load generator, then you can put the renewables on top of it.

You can do base load with wind power if you have the right grid for it, a grid that is much more capable than the standard grid is today but that does not need to be prohibitively expensive. You can do it by 1) expanding capacity to import and export electricity from other regions and by 2) metering use and price simultaneously at the end users. The latter does not cost much and it can do miracles to level peak load in a system with wind power as base load where the kWh prices will fluctuate from 2 to 20 c per kWh on an almost daily basis. Consumers can start heating water and do extra cooling when the price is low and stop it when the price is high. Plus 3) in the not so distant future grid connected EVs and PHEV will be able to perform the function of peak loading the grid. That could do away with natural gas for that function.

We should go for wind power because it is on track to be cheaper than both fossils and nuclear power. The EPRI journal 2006 summer issue (a goldmine of reliable information that reviews the cost of all of the important energy sources) say the levelized cost of nuclear power is 4.7c/ kWh assuming $1700/kW of construction costs (way too low in the US but perhaps not for China).

Furthermore, the levelized cost of wind energy is 7.5 c / kWh using the cost of the current fleet of the 11600MW of US wind turbines with an average capacity factor of 29%. The best US onshore locations do 5 c / kWh as a result of a 43% capacity factor. Interesting the newest offshore turbines from Vestas (V90) will do a 54% capacity factor at an average offshore location but offshore construction is costly.
Note: It should be noted that thanks to continued effort by California, Denmark, Germany and Spain the now global wind industry has managed to reduce the cost of wind power from approximately 25 c / kWh in 1986 to 5 c / kWh in 2006 at the best locations. For the more relevant average wind location this compares to a cost reduction from 37,5 c /kWh in 1986 to 7,5 c/ kWh in 2006. This trend is very likely to continue the next two decades so that the cost of wind power drops to c 1,5 / kWh in 2026 for the average wind location. This will be accomplished through further increases in turbine size and through mass production. Previously costs have foremost been cut by increasing turbine size but scales of economics to mass production will be the key to future efficiency gains since mass production has not really taken of in this industry.

To conclude, China or any other country will do better economically speaking if they go for a future with wind power for base load. This must, of cause, be accompanied by a much more capable grid and starting some ten years from now also accompanied with peak load services from grid capable EV and PHEV.

WE NEED NUCLEAR-POWERED DESALINATION OF OCEAN/GULF WATER IN THE SOUTHEAST US FOR A DROUGHT PROOF WATER SUPPLY - THIS IS CRITICAL TO SUPPORT BIOMASS PRODUCTION FOR ETHANOL/BIODIESEL AND TO SUPPORT NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS. IT WOULD BE EXPENSIVE ON THE FRONT END BUT COULD PAY FOR ITSELF OVER TIME.

nuclear to get water to produce biomass?

what bu**s*it

same b**s*it that getting a battery for 30000$ to move 150miles

China's got a good idea. Nuclear power could provide the USA too with enough electricity for everyone...that is, if it weren't for the NIMBY crowd and the very potent environmentalist lobby.

So, what are they going to do with the waste?

They will put the waste in Yucca Mountain.

Alternately, they will find somewhere else to put it.
Greenland is becoming available and is made from very old rock, they might find somewhere there.
[ But the Danes own it ]
Might be a nice little earner.

Henrik, everyone wants to use wind, but you can only put in so much unless you want to have the whole economy on standby the wind is off.
You NEED a background supply, which up to now has been hydro or coal.
Everyone wants to stop using coal, so this means nuclear. The trick is to bring as much wind into the equation as possible without risking the stability of the grid.
You can have a variable pricing mechanism for when the wind blows or doesn't, but you can only go so far, you have to keep computers and lights and so on running.
You may be able to time water heating, clothes and dish washing and battery charging, but some things have to happen as soon as they are needed and for this you need more than wind.

Nick,

On waste: The Chinese have a small prototype reprocessing plant coming on line in 2008 using the PUREX process (ugh!). They are also planning another reprocessing plant based on an undescribed indigenous process. They have a reactor fleet of mixed LWRs and PHWRs - they could pursue the Canadian/Korean DUPIC process which is much cleaner than PUREX.

Their planning at this time is primarily for additional light water reactors. (They have a few other experimental units). If they stick with light water technology, they will develop a growing inventory of transuranic wastes, dominated by Pu-240 and its daughter products.

By reprocessing, however, they can limit the volume of very long term wastes to just the transuranics. They are planning a deep geologic repository analogous to Yucca Mountain but have not selected a site.

Pu-240 with its daughter products is a very long term storage problem with a lot of heat generated and hard gamma radiation. This isotope of Plutonium is not a serious explosive weapons risk however. If you want to get rid of Pu-240, it will require a reactor (or accellerator)with a higher neutron energy than water based coolants; either epithermal or fast spectrum such as those proposed for testing in some of the Generation IV experiments.

Mahonj and Henrik,

I have to say I agree almost fully with Henrik. People don't realize that wind ends up being quite stable resource when it is produced in a wide enough area. Weather patterns have certain sizes and if you have wind power built in large area, some of the wind power plants will be in that part of the weather pattern that has good winds. You will never get zero production from wind. Certainly one will have fluctuations and as Henrik points out, the best way to deal with them is to use demand side measures. However, I think there will still be need for some fuel based peak or back-up capacity, but nuclear is the worst option. It is very capital intensive (just like wind) and it would be very expensive to built capital intensive plants that are used rarely.

While wind is already close to being cost competitive (and already is in really good sites) with traditional condensing power plants, one should not forget that PV might get there also. It certainly has to get cost down a lot more (maybe a factor of 4-5), but the technology is also very different from generator based power production. Learning curves also support that solar might end up being really cheap. Personally I don't think you'll get wind for c 1.5/kWh, since the learning curve of wind power will slow now that it is starting to be quite mature. Still, very cheap power considering the small externalities. Furthermore, wind combined with PV will have even less variation, since they don't correlate that much (certainly depends on location).

Juha,

I would agree that nuclear is a very poor choice for peaking power. Why would you take a power plant with a lower fuel cost than any fossil plant and keep it idle?

The French do some load following with nuclear power but that is because they have almost no fossil fuel power generation.

I would also agree that, within the bounds of uncertainty, nuclear and wind have the same capital cost for a given capacity. The wind plant will then, however, have a capacity utilization between 25 and 35% versus a nuclear plant with a capacity utilization of approximately 90%. The nuclear plant down time is largely predictable (i.e. refueling).

It is true that, over a large enough area, wind is more available. That means the 25 to 35% utilization has less fluctuation. What are your transmission losses going to be over your decentralized wind field?

Bill,

You got it wrong this time. The expected capital cost of wind in 2015 is around $900/kW and nuclear is around $2500/kW (IEA: http://www.iea.org/Textbase/nptable/2007/tackling_t2_1.pdf, certainly not the most optimistic source for wind). So, capital costs per produced kWh are similar with nuclear and wind (with large case dependant variation both in wind and nuclear). What wind does not have is a fuel price risk, decommissioning and waste management costs. On the other hand nuclear has longer expected lifetime although this does not weight much in private investment decisions, where anything beyond 20 years has little value. Still, I'd hope that they start manufacturing wind turbines with longer designed lifetime, but this is probably too early with a technology that's developing fast.

As Henrik said, wind has still room to get the capital cost down. Probably nuclear as well, but not in the same magnitude. Gen IV is ready for mass scale after 2050, which is too late for climate change and very likely can't beat wind or PV with their 2050 costs even if all the costs from large-scale implementation of power sources with variable and partly unpredictable production are taken into account.

To be honest about wind's current situation, capital costs have gone up, but this is mostly due to demand overstripping supply. Globally, there are lot more projects in the end of the pipeline than there are available turbines. This situation will last at least two more years and during that time we won't see prices that would reflect true manufacturing costs. On the other hand it helps to maintain a growth rate of 20-30% per year that has been going on for over 15 years (with some fluctuation). Meanwhile the manufacturers can accumulate some capital for further R&D. Before the tight supply situation wind power capital costs in big projects at cheap countries (e.g. Spain) were well below $1000/kW (the best ones below $800/kW).

I agree that transmission losses will be consirerable, but not over the board. I know that in the U.S. transmission losses are currently quite high, around 10% or so, but as far as I know the reason for this is that the lines are pushed to their limits, which increases losses. New transmission lines haven't been much built. In the Nordic power system losses are around 3-4 % and the Nordic system is almost large enough to get the effect that I was aspiring for. However, I have to admit that colder climate partly helps to keep the losses in check.

Losses increase with distance, but with large distances it becomes more economic to use technologies with less losses (higher voltage, DC). Also one has to note, that transmission will be used only when there is need for it. Normally some wind will be blowing almost everywhere and transmissions are therefore smaller. Certainly there needs to be more research to optimize larger networks incorporating high amount of variable production, but as a concept I think it looks viable and likely to succeed. I would be more worried about costs of building transmission that will not be used all the time and the social acceptance of new transmission lines. However, lot can be done just by upgrading current lines. Furthermore, not that much needs to be done in the power systems, rather connections between power systems should be improved. This means that investment needs are not necessarily that high and new investments would also help the system in other ways (larger markets and possibly more system security, although cascading failures need to be dealt with). Both Europe and U.S. have multiple power systems with relatively weak links between each other and also administrative barriers in utilizing them.

Where is all the uranium going to come from? Currently it is only cheap because they're using up the warheads. Supply from the current level of uranium mining cannot support this kind of expansion.

Wouldnt the price of nuclear also come down when hundreds are being built.India and China may be able to hold costs down in ways not possible in the west.Shared reprocessing and disposal would generate a sizeable industry that may deliver efficiencies heretofore not attained.They will do it because they have two billion plus{India+China}to keep happy.
This train has left the station.Politicians never hrrd the law of unintended consequences.Usually they fall afoul with legislation that doent take human reaction into account.Al Gore has successfully sold the co2 end of the world scenario.The world has answered with a massive nuclear build out.Surprise!!

We all know that fossils have no future because of GW. Therefore, the case is between nuclear or wind for future base load of the grid. You can judge for yourself but consider these facts:

1) Economy: It takes 5 to 7 years to finish a nuclear power plant. Start now and you start producing electricity in 2012-2014. At that time electricity from wind will be a little cheaper than nuclear. And after that time nuclear electricity production will be increasingly expensive compared to producing electricity by wind.
2) Security: No nuclear facility anywhere on the planet is ensured on market term for liability. The government is covering this insurance by guaranteeing the pay for the unforeseen. It is illusionary to believe that nuclear is safe and have no serious problems with handling radioactive waste. The day that nuclear pay for their own liability insurance using a private insurance company is the day I believe they have fixed all issues regarding security.
3) Nuclear proliferation: Expanding the nuclear power industry worldwide would create an enormous global market for people who could be bought by countries all over the planet to help them build nuclear weapons. 50 years down the road there will not be a single dictatorship left that doesn’t possess nuclear weapons. In such a world including the ever present terrorism it is unavoidable, to repeat unavoidable, that a nuke in a backpack eradicates a major city or several large cities simultaneously to do more harm killing 100 million people in a second. The only way that we can be sure that this scenario is not going to happen is to abandon nuclear power altogether all over the planet. Sweden and Germany are doing it now. Others will follow including France, the US and China.

To conclude, wind power is far superior to nuclear power both with regard to 1) the economic aspect, 2) the security aspect and 3) the proliferation of doomsday technology.

To be sure, I am not against nuclear energy if a case can be made to support it. Nuclear fusion power may be just that case and we should research it vigorously.

Clett,

The current cost of Uranium is not cheap. It is north of $120 per pound. The weapons downblend is at a low ebb because of geopolitics. Massive flooding at Cigar Lake in Canada has disrupted development of Cameco's richest uranium lode.

Australia has for years had a "3 mines" policy because of pressure from domestic coal interests. The political wind is shifting to more uranium production in Australia but nothing has come on line yet beyond the 3 mine limit.

In the US, a relatively minor producer, 2006 production was up 50% over 2005.

Uranium is not a particularly scarce resource. Within 2 to 3 years the current high price of yellowcake is going to tumble (But probably not back under $10/pound).

Otherwise I might agree with Henrik about fusion, but I think it's currently wrong investment of R&D and talent. We got to do something about global warming in near future and the promise of fusion is somewhere beyond 2050 even in the best case. Fusion research is still getting way more public money than wind and PV R&D combined, even though situation has gotten bit 'better' of late (energy R&D cutbacks have bitten fossils and nuclear more than renewables). Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the cost of fusion electricity will be competitive if the formidable technological challenges are solved. It is going to be a very complex water boiler.

Cold fusion might be a different story, but I haven't read anything that would make me believe that it's something tangible. On the other hand, I haven't seen a completely persuasive rebuttal either. Maybe somebody could point me to better sources of information.

WE NEED NUCLEAR-POWERED DESALINATION OF OCEAN/GULF WATER IN THE SOUTHEAST US FOR A DROUGHT PROOF WATER SUPPLY - THIS IS CRITICAL TO SUPPORT BIOMASS PRODUCTION FOR ETHANOL/BIODIESEL AND TO SUPPORT NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS. IT WOULD BE EXPENSIVE ON THE FRONT END BUT COULD PAY FOR ITSELF OVER TIME.

http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2002/10-24-427595.shtml

http://www.uic.com.au/nip74.htm

http://www.tampabaywater.org/watersupply/tbdesalprocess.aspx


PV PV PV. We need a Manhattan-type project to reduce the cost of photovoltaic. Solar energy potential of the US Southwest is vast. With cheap enough PV, you could generate H2 from H2O for nighttime generation. Take some of the billions spent on fusion toys and figure out how to make PV cells for 1/10 the cost. Or stop pouring billions in the the Iraq blood/money pit. Jeeze.

If wind is so good, how come no-one has gone much above 20% - the Danes are about the best, but they have Norwegian hydro to back them up and can export to germany if they have too much.

I am not saying don't have wind, I am saying there is a limit to how much wind you can put in.

You will need a mix of wind, nuclear and gas or something fast to balance the wind.

Maybe you could build huge storage dams to do it, but you end up with the whole grid dancing to the tune of the wind, rather than just producing electricity.

I always think it is a shame to burn gas in a power station - it should be piped straight to their houses or used in cars.

A breakthrough in PV might help, but it does not seem to have the scale at present.

Nuclear Fusion is still "20 years away" and will probably be for a long time.

If you could find an economical way to buffer wind energy, you would have something, but I am not aware of anything that is economical.

I see no reason to limit ourselves to any one power source. There's more around than just fossil, nuke and wind. My personal favourite is wave. But lets not forget geothermal, solar and garbage. We'll just have to use whatever works for any given location.

As the cost of extracting/constructing energy infrastructure becomes more costly, as is becomming the case with fossil and nuke, the wind/solar solution will surely fill in the emerging gaps. Renewable energy is a long way from generating enough
power to satisfy the grid and its varying load needs. Let
the regional power markets balance their needs with their
most cost effective and enviormentlally beginin solutions.
Cradle to grave costs are going to give the capitol intensive
and carbon generating solutions a distinct disadvantage going
into the future.

If wind is so good, how come no-one has gone much above 20%
Because commerial windpower didn't start until around 1980.
Nuclear was/is heavily subsidizes since 1950 because of it's
military importance.

Mahonj,

Well there is. The island of Gotland in eastern side of Sweden has an wind energy penetration of around 50%. Certainly they use their connection to Sweden to balance things out, but that's my point. One should have an interconnected system to balance wind power, because that's cheaper than to balance it locally (it can be done locally as well but with increasing integration costs).

I admit that one relatively small island does not serve as a good example of large system, but it takes some time to build up wind power to high enough levels in a real country. Danes were doing a good job, but then they had a change of government and they have not added much lately. However, they have set a goal of having 50% of electricity from wind in future. This goal is taken seriously by Danish TSO (Transmission System Operator) Energinet.DK. Check out a presentation here: http://www.cewind.de/dl/wind2006/orths-antje.pdf.

Once you have had a look at it, maybe you realize that one doesn't need that much to balance wind. It is quite rare that wind power in a big country would produce more than 50% of wind capacity. That means that you can have wind capacity double the average consumption and quite rarely produce more than the system needs. This amount of wind capacity will mean that wind is producing around 60% of electricity needed.

One more thing, in a large system wind will not have quick changes of power output. Weather patterns take many hours if not days to move over a large area and aggregate wind output follows the weather, not individual gusts. The worst situation in Denmark (a very small country) included going from almost full production to around 10% in six hours or so. In this time scale one can start up even slower power units, if one is prepared that they might be needed and one can be prepared since there is such a thing as weather forecasts.

The most economical way to 'buffer' wind is to use the system, especially power plants with low investment costs since they won't get that many hours of operation to pay for high investment costs. It is also economical to fish out that reserve from larger area, since then you need less of it. Furthermore, all systems do have capacity already that can be used for this purpose and does not need to be built. Actually, it is used for very similar purpose already - changes in consumption.

The price of wind generation must multiplied by the peak power of the machine divided by the actual yearly output. To this must be added the price of the power lines to take the power to its use and the price of the power lines that take substitute power to the use when the turbines are not operating. Also the price of the substitute generators must be considered and the cost of their use and the CO2 released. The number of wind turbines in most countries is so low that their failure to produce can be masked by existing generators and power lines. Transporting power is not free and also causes as much as a ten percent loss. Denmark has had to pay people to take their wind power at times whilst the coal fired plants must be kept running for reliability.

Coal mines in China are far more of a disaster every year than Chernobyl ever could have been. BHOPAL was far more of a disaster.

Plutonium is not a problem for countries that wish to conserve their uranium and do not throw it away like the US does. Plutonium is just put back into reactors after reprocessing along with new and old uranium and it goes away gradually. The amount of plutonium will stabilize at a certain level where some is made and the same amount is destroyed. Such plutonium is a mix of isotopes that will physically be to hot to make a bomb and is already fissioning too fast to allow a bomb to be made to explode.

The Rubbia Energy-Amplifier can use uranium or thorium fuel and can burn up most plutonium quickly.

People are protected from nuclear rays by barriers just as they are protected from the heat of a blast furnace. If the heat of a blast furnace is diluted by being far away or behind a thick wall the same is done to nuclear rays.

There is an assumed but mostly unspoken falsehood that any nuclear rays are too dangerous. Those that argue against nuclear energy do not tell you that all living things have always had built in radio-activity since the beginning of life. All nutrients ingested by plants and animals are radio-active and the best nutrients are more radioactive.

Nuclear fission products can be diluted by a great deal of sea bottom clay and mud and injected underneath a few feet of such mud. No plutonium could then be extracted nor radioactive materials of any kind recovered in quantity. Not many gamma rays would escape the mud and more would come from natural uranium already present. The clay bottom would prevent deadly exposure to anything on the top of the clay. We accept adequate protection from the dangers of stairways to say nothing about the dangers of cars. We must therefore accept adequate protection from nuclear materials use by man because we accept adequate, not perfect protection from nuclear materials that are omnipresent in the earths soils including the ones that are associateed with important nutrients. It would take many millions of dollars to grow a single non-radioactive-banana, and you, radio-active from conception, would have no advantage. Just sleeping near a person or a log causes more exposure.

Dilute and cover are the answer to the adequately safe storage of radio-active materials of all kinds. Marie Curie injured her self by concentrating radio-active materials but lived until 66, longer than many people at that time in France. Her husband was killed at a much younger age about thirty years earlier by a horse drawn vehicle.

Nuclear power plants do not need to do load following as any extra power produced could be used for electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen which can be combined with CO2 to make methanol for sale.

Nuclear energy is cheaper than solar energy because the equipment to collect it is cheaper. Converting any kind of heat, even coal, into electricity is very expensive and represents the major part of the production cost.

The raw uranium or thorium costs for operating a Rubbia Reactor almost vanishes and is less than ZERO if depleted uranium or used fuel rods are used for fuel for the next fifty years. A kilogram of any kind of uranium, plutonium or thorium can produce 20,000,000 Kwh thermal in such a reactor. That is about 3000 Tonnes of coal. Weapons grade uranium or plutonium can do it in any existing reactor.

Instead of wasting the heat into the air from the steam out of the turbine, it can be used for extracting salt free water fram the ocean.

Methanol can be made from water and CO2 at a nuclear powered factory at less cost per unit energy than oil at $150.

CANDU reactors can be built and have been built in China by mostly local industries in less than four years. The used rods from other light water reactors can be used in the previous mentioned DUPIC cycle with little modification and no chemical processing. ..HG..

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