China plans 60 nuclear reactors in the next decade, official says

China plans to construct more than 60 nuclear power plants in the next 10 years, a top Chinese industry official has said.

Zheng Mingguang, vice president and chief nuclear designer at China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), told Reuters at the World Nuclear Association conference in London last week that China would build about 30 reactors in the next five years and more in the five years after that.

Each of China’s three major nuclear companies – SNPTC, CNNC and CGN – would start building a minimum of two new reactors a year, Zheng said.

China aims to become a major exporter of nuclear power capacity, an ambition boosted by last week’s announcement by the UK government that the UK’s first new nuclear power station in 21 years would go ahead at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

CGN (an abbreviation of China General Nuclear) holds a 33% stake in the scheme as co-developer with France’s EDF.

The Chinese state-owned company will now also submit plans for new nuclear stations at Bradwell in Essex, and Sizewell in Suffolk, in which it would own the controlling share. CGN is expected to propose Chinese reactor designs for these.

However, it could take four years for CGN’s plans for Bradwell to gain approval from the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation, newspaper The Guardian reported.

China already leads the world in the volume of reactor construction. In 2015 it had 36 reactors in operation, and 20 under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency – although currently only around 3% of China’s electricity is generated by nuclear.

SNPTC’s Zheng Mingguang told Reuters that the 60 new plants would include between six and 10 CAP1000 reactors, which are Chinese versions of the AP1000 made by Toshiba-owned Westinghouse.

Zheng said the first batch of six will all be in China.

Photograph: IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano views an exhibit of the ACP1000 reactor, developed by China’s CNNC, at the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, September 2013 (Dean Calma/IAEA)

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