By Editors of Power Engineering.
Total global nuclear generation will increase by 73 percent through 2040, forecasts the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its International Energy Outlook 2016 report. Nuclear generation will increase from 2.6 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2015 to 4.5 kWh in 2040, the publication predicts.
China will lead other countries in nuclear growth, alone comprising 54 percent of global nuclear expansion in the reporting period. Countries that are not part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will account for 86 percent of new nuclear, the report says.
As of 2015, China had 34 operating nuclear reactors, with a total capacity of 27 GW. To meet its growing electricity demand and address environmental concerns, China has implemented a long-term strategy for nuclear power development. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, between 2010 and 2014 China added 10 nuclear reactors totaling 18 GW of additional capacity. The resulting increase in nuclear generation of 53 billion kWh accounted for 79 percent of the increase in nuclear generation in all non-OECD countries over that period.
China has an additional 20 reactors under construction, which if completed will add more than 22 GW to its existing capacity. At China's current construction rate, one reactor comes online every five months. According to both China's State Power Investment Corporation (SPI) and the World Nuclear Association's assessment of China's 13th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in March 2016, the Chinese Energy Fund Committee is expected to approve six to eight new nuclear reactors each year through 2020. This represents an additional 34 to 45 GW, increasing China's nuclear capacity to nearly 90 GW by 2025. By 2032, China is expected to surpass the United States as the country with the most electricity generation from nuclear power, the report says.
China is currently the world's largest emitter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and the world's largest consumer of coal. Building new nuclear capacity will increase China's ability to meet growing electricity demand without adding to the consumption of fossil fuels associated with carbon dioxide emissions.