China Greenlights New Nuclear in Bid to Cut Emissions

This article first appeared on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal.

  • Nuclear power plants are crucial to China’s carbon goals
  • Nuclear power in Liaoning suffered from lower utilization

China’s Liaoning and Jiangsu provinces kicked off construction of four nuclear plants with a total five gigawatts of capacity on May 19. Nuclear will be crucial for China to cut CO2 emissions amid its push for higher integration of solar and wind power.

China had 50GW nuclear capacity by end-2020, representing just 2% of the entire power fleet. Generation last year reached 366TWh, or 5% of the national total. Nuclear was the only technology that did not meet the 13th Five-Year Plan target of 54GW, mainly due to the Fukushima disaster that delayed permit of further reactors. China plans to speed up nuclear deployment from 2021 to 2025, including these four Russia-origin units.

The two reactors in Jiangsu may see a high utilization rate due to robust power demand growth and a restriction on coal consumption. In contrast, nuclear plants in Liaoning have suffered from low utilization due to weak demand growth. The local government may deliver some of the power output from these new reactors to the neighboring North (Huabei) region.

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