Nuclear energy ‘essential’ to meet China’s climate targets, top official says

The nation aims to supply as much of 20pc of its energy using renewable sources by 2030, but more atomic power plants needed to fill gaps, according to Xie Zhenhua

By Li Jing
South China Morning Post

Nuclear energy is “essential” to meet mainland China’s 2030 climate targets, the nation’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

But he said safety would be a priority, and the government was still considering when and where to launch inland nuclear projects.

“If we want to substantially reduce our dependence on coal and thermal power, renewable energies alone will not be able to account for as much as 20 per cent in total energy supply by 2030. We will definitely need nuclear energy,” Xie said.

Non-fossil fuels accounted for 12 per cent of the mainland’s primary energy mix at the end of the year, exceeding an earlier target of 11.4 per cent, according to Xie.

As part of its climate targets, Beijing has said that a fifth of energy will be derived from non-fossil fuels by 2030.

Greenpeace members stage a protest in Hong Kong’s Central to raise awareness about the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Shenzhen in a file photo from 2012. Photos: May Tse

“We’ve already relaunched coastal nuclear projects and are updating our technologies … but inland nuclear projects … may still need further research,” he said.

Xie said tackling climate change would help to solve the worsening smog problem, and meeting the 2030 targets would lead to a 42 per cent reduction in emissions.

The nation has pledged to peak its carbon emissions no later than 2030 and reduce carbon intensity by 60 to 65 per cent from 2005 levels.

“Initial calculation shows about 41 trillion yuan [US$6.33 trillion or HK$49 trillion] in investment is needed to meet the targets, but I believe the cost could drop along with improvements in technology, and our goal could be reached earlier,” he said.

A senior official at the National Energy Administration said earlier this month that the nation would “push forward” with the construction of inland nuclear power plants during the next five years, but the public and some government-backed researchers have voiced concerns about safety risks.

The mainland has 30 nuclear power reactors in operation, with an additional 21 under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association. The plants supplied about 2.4 per cent of the mainland’s energy needs last year, the association says, less than India’s 3.5 per cent, and far below France’s nearly 77 per cent.

The State Council has given approval to build eight reactors this year, and the state-owned Power Construction Corporation has said the country would invest 500 billion yuan on developing next-generation reactors between 2016 and 2020, citing the country’s 13th five-year plan.

But Wang Yinan, a researcher with the council’s Development Research Centre, has cautioned against any rush in nuclear expansion, especially in the inland areas, citing the dense population, technical uncertainties, lack of stable water resources and the country’s lack of capability to handle radioactive wastes.

The public fears over industrial accidents has intensified the the wale of the massive massive blasts at a chemical warehouse in Tianjin in August.


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One Response to “Nuclear energy ‘essential’ to meet China’s climate targets, top official says”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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