China has nuclear power plants

China is again relying on nuclear power

China's energy consumption is enormous and continues to grow. With a contribution to primary energy consumption of more than half, coal still forms the backbone of the energy supply. However, the share of dirty energy sources such as coal in particular should be pushed back in favor of green energy sources. Nuclear power is also regarded as green energy in China, although no convincing final storage solutions have been found here either.

China's energy structure (power generation in TWh; change compared to previous year and share in%)

2017 2018 Change proportion of
Overall, of it 6.453 6.994 8,4 100,0
. Coal / Oil / Gas *) 4.588 4.923 7,3 70,4
.Hydropower 1.195 1.233 3,2 17,6
.Core power 248 294 18,6 4,2
.Wind energy 305 366 20,2 5,2
.Solar power 118 178 50,8 2,5

*) no further specification available

Source: China Electricity Council; Calculations by Germany Trade & Invest

At the beginning of 2019, the country had electricity generation capacities of 44.7 gigawatts (GW), and further plants with 12.2 GW were under construction. However, according to Chinese media, a number of projects under construction are well behind schedule in terms of time and above plan in terms of budget. Against this background, the self-imposed target of nuclear power capacity of 58 GW by 2020 is considered unrealistic after the last nuclear power plant was approved at the end of 2015.

Movement in the approval machinery again since 2019

On January 30, 2019, the State Council approved the construction of Units I and II (of six with a total of 7.4 GW) of the Fujian Zhangzhou nuclear power plant (operated by China National Nuclear Corp.) and Units I and II (also of six) from Guangdong Taipingling (China General Nuclear Power Group). On October 16, the construction of the first nuclear reactor for this year began in Zhangzhou. The construction period is set for five years. The project in Guangdong Taipingling is also scheduled to start this year.

The third generation reactors (Hualong technology) developed in China are to be used at both locations. So far, the People's Republic has mainly worked with other countries in this sector, above all with France and Russia, but also with Finland and the USA. The country is also vigorously researching fusion technology, for example within the framework of the "International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor Project", in which the EU is also involved.

China's upcoming five-year plan is eagerly awaited

The upcoming 14th five-year plan (2021 to 2025) will be exciting for the future direction in energy policy and thus for which new projects can be expected. In the nuclear energy segment, China should first try to test its own Hualong technology before further plants of this type are built. That could well take five to ten years. According to the experience of the trade dispute with the USA, those responsible should be interested in ending the previous dependence on foreign technology as completely as possible, according to a Chinese industry representative.

However, the trend towards the greatest possible self-sufficiency has existed for decades. That is why the market for power plant technology is generally considered difficult and highly competitive for foreign corporations. In fact, China is basically in a position to cover almost all fields of energy technology itself. The country is a world leader in wind and solar energy.

However, German companies have supply options in niche markets that require a high level of experience, know-how and precision. This applies to certain pumps, valves, sensors and isolators, for example. However, especially in the field of nuclear energy, caution is advised with so-called dual-use goods. Their export to the People's Republic must be approved by the Federal Office for Economics and Export Control (BAFA).

Dismantling of nuclear power plants could become an issue in the future

A Chinese representative from the energy industry sees medium to long-term opportunities for German companies based on the experience gained in their own country in the dismantling of nuclear power plants. For example, the country's oldest nuclear power plant, Qinshan in Zhejiang Province, which went online in 1991, only has an approved remaining term until 2021. Although an extension for a further ten years is likely, it should end in 2031 at the latest.

The biennial "Nuclear Industry China 2020 (NIC)" will open its doors in Beijing from March 31 to April 3, 2020 (web address: http://nic-expo.net).

The most important trade fair for the electricity industry is the "China International Electric Power & Electric Engineering and Smart Grid Exhibition (EPower)" of the China Electrical Equipment Industry Association (http://www.china-epower.com/, next date), which has been taking place for 20 years probably June 2021 in Shanghai).

Further information on the economic situation, industries, business practice, law, customs, tenders and development projects in China can be found at http://www.gtai.de/china. The page http://www.gtai.de/asien-pazifik offers an overview of various topics in the region.