From China Brief:
Economic factors are clearly driving Chinese interest in strengthening their country’s underdeveloped nuclear energy sector. At present, China’s 11 operating nuclear reactors produce less than 2 percent of the country’s electricity, compared with over 25 percent in Japan and approximately 75 percent in France . According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, nuclear energy produced only 1.9 percent of the 3.28 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity produced in China in 2007 (People’s Daily, March 9).
Last year, the Chinese government adopted a nuclear power development plan that aims to double the share of atomic energy in China’s energy mix, to 4 percent by 2020, with an aggregate capacity of 40,000 megawatts (MW) (Xinhua, March 12). On March 8, however, Zhang Guobao, a vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, stated that, due to the more rapid than expected pace of construction in this sector, the country’s installed nuclear power capacity could exceed 60,000 MW by that date (Xinhua, March 8).
Richard Weitz is a Senior Fellow and Director of Program Management at the Hudson Institute.