October 26, 2007
India Embracing Nuclear Power While China Sticks With Coal

More coal means even more pollution.

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency forecasts India will increase nuclear production eight-fold by 2030 to account for 26 percent of its power grid.

However, China plans to use nuclear power for only 4 percent of electricity generation by 2030. Globally, the IAEA estimates there'll be drop an overall drop in nuclear energy from around 15 percent in 2006, down to 13 percent in 2030.

China's industrialization is one of the biggest threats to the world's environment. If China reversed on coal and shifted toward nuclear we'd be a lot better off.

The ramp-up of coal electric plant construction in the United States might not happen.

Just nine months ago, the federal government listed more than 150 coal-power plants as "in development." Since then, at least 16 have been canceled, and many others have been put on hold, according to data from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

If political pressures against coal in the United States continue to build we will see a lot more nuclear power plants and wind towers.

Back in February 2007 TXU cancelled plans for 8 coal electric plants.

If shareholders approve the acquisition, TXU would back federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system. It would shelve plans for eight of 11 coal-fired plants that current TXU executives had proposed for Texas and would drop plans to build new coal plants in Pennsylvania and Virginia. The company would also double its spending to promote energy efficiency, to $80 million a year, for five years.

Opposition to coal helps spur development of technologies which can replace fossil fuels. Down with coal. Up with the coming post-fossil fuels era.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 October 26 12:04 AM  Energy Fossil Fuels

adrian said at October 26, 2007 1:24 AM:

India's national IQ makes me worried about the feasibility of this. As usual, I assume Parsi's and Brahmins will do everything.

Brian Wang said at October 26, 2007 8:05 AM:

There is an error in the Wired article. from the IAEA article.

India currently gets less than 3% of its electricity from nuclear, but at the end of 2006 it had one-quarter of the nuclear construction - 7 of the world´s 29 reactors that were under construction [mostly smaller reactors]. India´s plans are even more impressive: an 8-fold increase by 2022 to 10 percent of the electricity supply and a 75-fold increase by 2052 to reach 26 percent of the electricity supply. A 75-fold increase works out to an average of 9.4 percent/yr, about the same as average global nuclear growth from 1970 through 2004

China is adding 155 GW of hydro. To go along with 40gw of nuclear by 2020. The IAEA notes a five times increase in nuclear power by China.

India's nuclear reactor situation and current reported plan
India 17 reactors 3779MW, 15 billion kwh
6 being built 2976MW
10 in planning 8560MW
9 more proposed 4800MW

51.8 billion kwh (1.9% of current power)
11 reactors now 8587MW
5 being built 4540MW
30 planned 32000MW
86 proposed 68000 MW

Expect the being built and planned to be done by 2020.
The proposed should be done by 2030.

Wolf-Dog said at October 26, 2007 8:10 AM:

Coal still remains more economical than nuclear energy, and hence China is letting the developed countries invest in R & D for more more advanced forms of nuclear energy, which would bear fruit only in 10 or 20 more years. Until that time, China has every reason to rely on Coal, since it still has plenty of coal.

Here is an article about the coal reserves of China:
This article says that: "China has proven, recoverable coal reserves estimated (as of January 2005) at about 125 billion short tons, and potential reserves of as much as 4 trillion short tons. More than half of this is bituminous and anthracite, and most of the reserves, including almost all of the highest-quality coal, is located in the northeastern part of the country."

These 4 trillion ton potential reserves mentioned in the article, mean that China can afford to choose the path of least resistance for another 2 decades, but by then we shall probably see 400 mph winds which will cause terrible disasters all over the world. Just imagine how much worse the San Diego fires would be if we had 75 mph winds.

Brett Bellmore said at October 26, 2007 9:16 AM:

"but by then we shall probably see 400 mph winds which will cause terrible disasters all over the world."

Who's going to notice 400 mph winds when the planet has gone the way of Venus, and the surface temperature is high enough to melt lead?

Is anyone seriously suggesting the world is going to see 400 mph winds 20 years from now, outside of the funnels of tornadoes? Actually, even the peak speeds in tornados don't quite get that high...

K said at October 26, 2007 1:49 PM:

I don't see the numbers given justify the leadin "India Embracing Nuclear Power While China Sticks With Coal"

True, China is building coal as quickly as possible. But they are also building a lot of nuclear capacity as quickly as possible also. They are now a large economy and still expanding rapidly, they are building a lot of almost everything.

Besides having a good supply of domestic coal China is right next to huge reserves in Mongolia that haven't been mined at all.

As far as I know India doesn't have a huge reserve of coal, nor do their neighbors.

Randall Parker said at October 26, 2007 6:06 PM:

Brian Wang, K,

Since China's economy is larger and growing more rapidly China's total power demand is increasing much more rapidly. China can build more nukes than India and still build more coal plants and burn more coal than India.

This is the basic problem posed to the world by China's industrialization. It is so huge in population and growing so rapidly that its resources usage and pollution generation are overtaking every other country and will go much higher even once it becomes #1.

Brian Wang said at October 26, 2007 9:28 PM:

It would be great if china builds a thousand reactors


China is working on a pilot for pebble bed reactors.
China expects to complete a small commercial plant, which will produce 195 megawatts of electricity, within five years (2011) in the eastern province of Shandong


China is positioned to leapfrog the world in nuclear power precisely because it entered the race late. Until now, the country has built a hodgepodge of reactors with different technologies and safety features. But recently top leaders decided to build a newer infrastructure virtually from scratch based on the most advanced, and safest, technologies. Although the pebble-bed reactor is not yet ready for prime time, the government is buying equipment and designs that have never been built before. China plans to choose one design of three submitted by Areva of France, Atomstroyexport of Russia and Westinghouse Electric for an $8 billion program to build reactors in the eastern province of Zhejiang. (Some industry experts say Areva will probably win, especially since the Chinese government may bristle at the recent takeover bid by Japan's Toshiba on Westinghouse.) The Chinese plan to work closely with the winner to learn how to design and operate the reactors. The goal is to use this technology as the basis for subsequent Chinese plants.

The ultimate goal is to improve China's own design and construction capabilities so it will not have to rely on foreigners to build and operate the country's reactors. Eventually, Beijing hopes to export some of its own expertise in the construction and operation of plants, ultimately contributing power-plant designs as well. Its contracts with foreign firms are thus structured to maximize technology sharing. In fact, Beijing recently delayed awarding the Zhejiang contract in part to squeeze even more concessions from the bidders (as well as to get a better price): the Westinghouse technology, for example, uses state-of-the-art passive safety design, which China's engineers hope to learn. The Chinese leadership is expected to announce soon a sharp increase in plans for research in nuclear reactors.

The pebble-bed reactor, in fact, doesn't even have a containment vessel. Another advantage of pebblebeds is that it's easier to make small plants and put them up quickly, which lends itself to China's plan of spreading plants around the hinterlands. Extracting fuel from pebblebed reactors to use for weapons would be difficult and expensive.

Engineers at the research facility outside Beijing are working to create a next-generation version that will use helium as a coolant, rather than water. The facility is run by the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology of Beijing's Tsinghua University (with cooperation from MIT) and Chinergy, a company owned in part by the institute and partly by the state-owned China Nuclear Engineering Group. The only other country actively working on a commercial pebblebed reactor is South Africa, but the project has faced delays due to pressure from environmentalists; many experts expect China, which keeps its greens on a short leash, to finish first. Other countries are interested in the technology because one of its byproducts is hydrogen, a potential energy source.

China is floating a big currency adjustment (15-20%) through their top planing department.
That plus regular growth would put china on par with Japan's economy next year.

China tsinghua university has talked about 300GW+ of nuclear power by 2050. three times more than the USA has now.
2050 is a long ways away even for China's planning. If the reactors and new reactors types go well over the next 20 years I would expect China to go big for nuclear (and other clean power) 2030+

brian wang said at October 26, 2007 9:42 PM:


China has licensed the German technology and is actively developing a pebble bed reactor for power generation [8]. The 10 megawatt prototype is called the HTR-10. It is a conventional helium-cooled, helium-turbine design. The program is at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The first 200 megawatt production plant is planned for 2007. There are firm plans for thirty such plants by 2020 (6 gigawatts). By 2050, China plans to deploy as much as 300 gigawatts of reactors of which PBMRs will be a major component. If PBMRs are successful, there may be a substantial number of reactors deployed. This may be the largest planned nuclear power deployment in history.

Tsinghua's program for Nuclear and New Energy technology also plans in 2006 to begin developing a system to use the high temperature gas of a pebble bed reactor to crack steam to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen could serve as fuel for vehicles, reducing China's dependence on imported oil. Hydrogen can also be stored, unlike electricity, and distribution by pipelines may be more efficient than conventional power lines. See hydrogen economy.

Paul Dietz said at October 27, 2007 7:47 AM:

More likely, China will depend on coal to reduce its dependence on imported oil, by production of synthetic liquid fuels. Already, gray market blending of methanol into gasoline is becoming widespread there (gray market because it reduces energy density and may adversely affect some fuel system components in some vehicles.) The methanol is produced from coal-derived syngas.

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