21 Jul (NucNet): China, which has 23 gigawatts of nuclear capacity under construction and “several facilities” in the planning stages, is expected to surpass South Korea and Russia in nuclear generating capacity by the end of 2015, placing it behind only the US, France and Japan, the US Energy Information Administration said.
The EIA, an independent statistical organisaton, said nuclear power makes up slightly more than two percent of China's total power generation. However, the Chinese government plans to provide at least 15 percent of overall energy consumption by 2020 – increasing to 20 percent by 2030 – from non-fossil fuel sources, including nuclear, hydroelectricity and other renewable sources.
To help achieve this target, China plans to increase nuclear capacity to 58 GW and to have 30 GW of capacity under construction by 2020.
The EIA said China has rapidly expanded its nuclear capacity in the past several years, which will probably increase nuclear generation in the next few years. China's net installed nuclear capacity is 23 GW, after the country added 10 reactors totaling more than 10 GW since the beginning of 2013.
China is constructing an additional 23 GW of nuclear capacity that is scheduled to become operational by 2020, the EIA said. Operation of these units will make China the leading nuclear generator in Asia. Several more facilities are in various stages of planning.
All of China's nuclear plants are located along the east coast and southern parts of the country, near most of the country's power demand. Following Japan’s coastal Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011, China has increasingly considered construction of inland reactors, the EIA said.
The EIA also said China plans to take “an ownership role” throughout the entire nuclear supply chain. China intends to build strategic and commercial uranium stockpiles through overseas purchases and continue to develop domestic production in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang (northwest China).
China is developing nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities, which are expected to come online by 2017.
China is in the process of designing its own large pressurised water reactor, the CAP1400, through a technology transfer with US-based Westinghouse, the EIA said.
Also, as part of its nuclear expansion programme, China signed agreements with several countries – Romania, Argentina, Turkey and South Africa – in 2014 to finance the construction of nuclear reactors and export its own nuclear technology.