POWER UTILITY | Staff Reporter, China

China's nuclear capacity could hit 55-56GW by 2020

The first pilot Hualong One reactor, designed on China’s own G-III technology, is likely to be put in service in 2020.

China could achieve an operating nuclear capacity of 55-56GW by 2020 as it starts to feel the pressure to meet its targets of having 58GW of nuclear power units in operation and 30GW of projects under construction by the end of 2020, according to S&P Global’s 2019 industry top trends report.

The contribution of nuclear power is estimated to further increase from 3.9% of national power generation as of the end of 2017. All of the country’s new nuclear power projects in the pipeline are also expected to adopt third-generation (G-III) technology.

“Nuclear power technology and expertise is becoming a national icon that China is ambitious to export,” Abhishek Dangra, one of the report’s authors, said. “Two giants in this segment, China General National Nuclear Corp and China National Nuclear Corp. are promoting Hualong One reactors in their potential projects in the UK, Pakistan, Argentina and Africa.”

Also read: China's nuclear power generation jumped 13.3% in 9M2018

Meanwhile, the firm noted that the K2 and K3 projects of Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant using Hualong One technology are scheduled for commercial operation in 2021 and 2022, respectively. “Demand for nuclear power in developed economies is declining as these countries use more renewable energy and less electricity. But developing countries are likely to make up for that shift and provide the window of opportunity to China,” Dangra noted.

The evolutionary power reactor (EPR) and AP1000 reactors have reportedly hit snags in their home countries, but their projects have debuted in China with grid connection in 2018, the report highlighted.

“The first pilot Hualong One reactor, designed on China’s own G-III technology, is likely to be put in service in 2020,” Dangra said. “Amidst escalating trade tensions, the US tightened controls on China’s imports of advanced civil nuclear technology in October 2018. This may affect the prospects of Westinghouse Electric Corp.’s AP1000 reactors in China, but will benefit Hualong because more new projects may use China’s own reactors.”

China’s slowing economy is expected to moderate growth in power demand to 5-6% in 2019 from a seven-year high of 8.5% in 2018, according to S&P Global Ratings. However, the report noted that power demand has increased since 2016 primarily due to a structural change in power consumption, with a greater contribution from the household and services sectors, although industrial users still dominate. 

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