Any student of economics wondering how important reliable and affordable electricity is to economic growth and
industrialisation, need only look at China. The CCP may not be the flavour of the month at the moment, but its role in China’s economic success can’t be dismissed so readily.
In less than 25 years, China has dragged hundreds of millions out of agrarian poverty by launching itself into the modern industrial age, dominating manufacturing of all manner of household kit and appliances, improving living standards beyond the imagination of the previous generation.
China’s success as an industrial power and manufacturing powerhouse is down to one single policy: a focus on providing abundant supplies of cheap and reliable electricity.
The hundreds of new coal-fired plants under construction evidence China seriousness about serious power generation. So too, does its efforts to build the world’s largest fleet of nuclear power plants.
President Xi will be delighted that so many industrial competitors are sabotaging their electrical grids with erratic, unreliable solar and wind power. Right now, The People’s Republic of China is the biggest platform in the world for the deployment of nuclear power technology. In twenty years, China has increased its fleet of nuclear power reactors from three to 48, with 11 more plants under construction. That means it will soon surpass France which has 57:
By the end of the twentieth century, France’s mature nuclear energy industry operated over fifty nuclear power reactors to supply about 80 percent of the electricity consumed by its population of 60 million people.1 By contrast, when China connects its fiftieth nuclear power reactor to the grid, which is expected in a few years, China’s nuclear power plants will contribute only about 5 percent of the electricity demanded by its population of 1.4 billion.
At the moment the USA has the largest nuclear generation in the world, with more than double the production of the nearest competitor — France. But China began stockpiling uranium in 2007, and in the last five year plan released in 2016 — China aimed to double nuclear power by the end of 2020. It looks like falling short this year — but by 2030 plans to outdo everyone including the USA
China poised to overtake US in nuclear power by 2030
China is on track to surpass the U.S. as the world’s top producer of nuclear energy as early as 2030, reflecting hesitance to build new capacity in Japan and Western nations even as emerging economies move ahead.
The trend reflects diverging approaches to nuclear power after the March 2011 Fukushima meltdowns in Japan. While the U.S., Europe and Japan grew risk averse in response to public fears, emerging nations have been keener. Indonesia and Philippines are among the countries dusting off old plans for reactors. And China and Russia have emerged as the main suppliers.
Nuclear Belt and Road:
China is competing with Russia to provide nuclear power in strategic deals, and already has agreements or MOU’s with Pakistan, Romania, Argentina, UK, Iran, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. There are fingers in many pies.
China would also have a dominant role in the nuclear industry.
The bigger China’s nuclear power footprint grows, the more say China will have in global nuclear governance. If China in the coming decades becomes the leading nuclear power country, it will demand and obtain a commensurate role in members’ decisionmaking concerning multilateral technical rulemaking compacts and organizations, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). If China closes the nuclear fuel cycle, global governance mechanisms related to nuclear security and nonproliferation may be adjusted to reflect that accomplishment.
David Archibald calculates that China is burning through its coal quickly, but obviously, they are well prepared for the next step to nuclear.
There are 451 nuclear plants on the planet. Australia has largest uranium reserves in the world but has no nuclear power plants. Given the inevitable rise of nuclear power one way or the other — perhaps we should dig up and burn our 300 years supply of coal while it is still worth digging up?
If I were President Xi, I’d be donating to Greenpeace, funding The Greens, and sponsoring Greta to help hobble the competition.
Categories: Mining & Energy