China approves 2 nuclear plants, to come up at cost of $11.5 billion

Updated on Sep 15, 2022 08:31 PM IST

China had last approved a larger number of nuclear power plants in 2008, when it gave the go-ahead to 14 new ones. The projects approved this week will cost about 80 billion yuan ($11.5 billion), reported Yicai.com, a business news portal

The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 1 & 2, in Guangdong, China. (Source: EDF Energy via Wikimedia Commons)
The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 1 & 2, in Guangdong, China. (Source: EDF Energy via Wikimedia Commons)

BEIJING: China approved two new nuclear power plants in the south of the country earlier this week, taking the total number of newly sanctioned nuclear power units to 10 in 2022, the highest yearly number in more than a decade. The projects approved this week will cost about 80 billion yuan ($11.5 billion), reported Yicai.com, a business news portal.

China had last approved a larger number of nuclear power plants in 2008, when it gave the go-ahead to 14 new ones.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, approved the second phase of the Zhangzhou project in the southeastern Fujian province and the first phase of the Lianjiang project in Guangdong province in the south during a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.

The dual aims are to add energy capacity and promote green development, state media report said.

China’s fast approval of new nuclear units comes in the backdrop of crippling power shortages experienced both last and this year across provinces, which shut down industries and led to rationing of electricity.

“State-owned China National Nuclear Corporation will be responsible for the second phase of Zhangzhou, while State Power Investment, the world’s largest renewable power producer, will oversee the first phase of Lianjiang,” the portal reported.

According to estimates by The Paper, a digital newspaper, the total investment of the 10 units approved this year is close to 200 billion yuan ($29 billion).

As of the end of June 2022, China had 54 nuclear power units in operation, with a total installed capacity of 55.78 million kilowatts, ranking third in the world. As many 23 nuclear power units are either under construction or have been approved, also the largest number in the world.

Nuclear power accounts for 2% of China’s installed power capacity and supplies 5% of the country’s power.

China will accelerate the expansion of the installed capacity and maintain the approved start-up rhythm of 6-8 nuclear power units per year between 2022 and 2025, Wang Shoujun, chairperson of the Chinese Nuclear Society, said at a recent seminar.

“The installed capacity of nuclear power operation is about 70 million kilowatts. By 2035, China’s nuclear power will account for 10% of total power generation,” Wang said.

The State Council meeting, which approved the two latest projects, emphasised on safety of the plants.

China had to shut down a reactor at a nuclear plant in the southern Guangdong province to repair fuel rod damage in July, 2021.

The plant operator China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) had then said in a statement that it had shut Unit 1 at the Taishan nuclear plant in Guangdong province after “lengthy” talks with technicians.

“After lengthy conversations between French and Chinese technical personnel, Taishan Nuclear Power Plant ... decided to shut down Unit 1 for maintenance,” CGN had said, adding that “a small amount of fuel damage” occurred during the operation of the reactor. The damage had sparked fears of a leak.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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