September 06, 2009
China To Double Nuclear Power Plant Build Rate
Bloomberg reports on an interview with the President of Japan Steel Works that China will build more than double previous estimates. 132 units will take China way past the US (at 104 units and probably smaller average size) in total nuclear reactor capacity.
The country may build about 22 reactors in the five years ending 2010 and 132 units thereafter, compared with a company estimate last year for a total 60 reactors, President Ikuo Sato said in an interview. Japan Steel Works has the only plant that makes the central part of a large-size nuclear reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece, reducing radiation risk.
More nukes means a slower growth rate in coal electric power plant construction. The total amount of CO2 emissions from Chinese plants will continue to rise. But it would rise as fast and as far as previously projected.
That high build rate should bring down costs and make China the low cost leader in nuclear power plant construction.
From an ecological point of view, this is great news. More nuclear plants means less reliance on coal for energy and less burning fossil fuel over all.
It's probably wishful thinking, but it would be good news if this sort of activity would provoke Americans to increase the rate at which we build nuclear power plants. It would be a welcome change-of-pace if we could harness Americans' strong sense patriotism into something truly productive.
America's irrationally anti-nuclear policies are Exhibit A in the case that we are a country where the median citizen is a damn fool.
The average American is scientifically illiterate, damn near innumerate, and unable to pick apart claims to see if they are consistent with facts. This forces them to take most everything on authority, and if they trust the wrong authority....
Well, given that our mania for "alternative" energy will most likely wreck our economy this is good news for the planet since most manufacturing will be occurring in Asia from here on out. It will be good that less and less of the electricity used to make our stuff in China will come from low-carbon sources.
Of course, we could just build out our own nuclear capability (and use things like CAES as a buffer). Wind is cheaper than natural gas at anything except recession prices, so I don't see how it hurts us. The displacement of natgas by wind helps keep natgas prices down, which is a boon to domestic industry; I found reports that ammonia production by Terra Industries was restarted last year, after a considerable period when N. American gas was too expensive to be competitive.