China Seen Missing Nuclear Power Goal on Slow Construction Pace

  • China General Nuclear says too few reactors are being built
  • Five-year plan sets target of 58 gw online by end of decade

China, the world’s largest consumer of energy, may fail to meet the nuclear power target laid out in its latest five-year plan, according to the chairman of one of the country’s biggest reactor builders.

The nation may miss its goal of getting 58 gigawatts of capacity online by 2020 because not enough reactors are being built, He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corp., said in an interview in Beijing Saturday. The country may start seven new reactors this year and Hualong One, its domestically designed model, will be ready for export in three years, He said.

“China has 28 gigawatts of capacity in operation and has less than 30 gigawatts under construction,” He said. “It takes at least five years to construct nuclear power plants. So we won’t be able to reach that target.”

He’s comments came on the same day that the official target was reiterated in the 2016-2020 Five-Year Plan, released at the annual meeting of the nation’s legislature. The country is seeking to increase its use of nuclear and renewable sources of energy to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as develop next-generation nuclear technology that it can export.

As recently as January, Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority, said the country was on track to reach its goal of 58 gigawatts of capacity online and another 30 gigawatts under construction by 2020.

China’s energy mix is dominated by coal, which accounts for almost two-thirds of consumption. While the country’s nuclear power capacity jumped 30 percent last year to 26 gigawatts, it made up less than 2 percent of generation capacity, according to 2015 data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Full Coverage: China National People's Congress 2016

— With assistance by Jing Yang

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