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Chinese nuclear power technology going global

Updated: Dec 13,2015 10:51 AM

According to energy experts, energy production accounts for 35 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions that fuel global warming, with 25 percent coming from electricity generation alone. Unlike coal, oil and gas-fired power plants, nuclear facilities have no emissions.

The China Nuclear Energy Association says overall generating capacity of nuclear power plants in the Chinese mainland was over 130 billion kilowatt hour in 2014. But that accounts for less than a 3 percent of the capacity of the national grid.

In France and South Korea, it was over 70 percent and 30 percent. China has progressed to over 20 operating commercial units in 30 years. Construction of generation three reactors began in May this year. Its first demonstration reactor is being built in East China’s Fujian province.

Seven months have passed, since China began to build the first demonstration reactor for its homegrown Generation Three nuclear power technology. The Hualong One project in East China’s Fujian province is part of efforts to ease power shortages, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s a “Made-in-China” brand. The Hualong One, like other generation-III nuclear power reactors, excels over its predecessors.

Xing Ji, Chief Designer of Hualong One said: “The safety of China’s nuclear power technology has become among the most advanced in the world, in terms of innovation of safety technology, and setting safety-standards.”

It draws lessons from the generation-II reactor in the Fukushima nuclear accident, and adds passive safety systems. It also uses double-layer containment, and can withstand the crash of large commercial jet-liner and magnitude 8 earthquake.

With 177 fuel assemblies in the reactor core, the power output can be increased by around ten percent. Hualong One’s first demonstration reactor is being built in the southeast.

The Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant is building a model site to showcase the Hualong One nuclear power technology. It opens a channel for Chinese nuclear power technologies to go global.

Two more will soon be built, one here and one in Fangchenggang in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Chinese nuclear power companies signed big deals to build abroad in 2015. The prospect for further cooperation is huge.

“Many ‘Belt and Road’ countries are in their economic development stage. They have huge demand for energy, especially nuclear power. And nuclear power is not only energy, but also represents the overall national strength. That’s why they want to develop atomic power,” said Qian Zhimin, General Manager of China National Nuclear Corporation.

Unlike fossil-fuel power plants, nuclear facilities do not generate emissions. Radiation to people living nearby within a year is lower than taking just one flight.

Hualong One’s chief designer says waste from nuclear power plants is strictly controlled.

“The current technology has achieved this. And there will be better technology in the future,” said Xing Ji.

China’s nuclear power industry is evolving its technology. Research and production of the fourth generation is already underway.