China Invests in Nuclear Tech – Now Has Enough Fuel for Next 3,000 Years

Think about this the next time the news bulletins warn of the coming energy crisis in your country . . .

The Guardian reports that China’s investments in nuclear R&D have paid off and they now stand to reap rich rewards from it. According to the article the Chinese have solved the problem of reprocessing spent uranium, and hence have not only solved their energy problems, but largely solved the problem of what to do with nuclear waste as well:

China‘s ambitions to lead the world in nuclear power were boosted today by reports that its scientists had mastered a key technique in the reprocessing of spent uranium.

State media claimed the technology overcame a supply bottleneck and ensured China would have sufficient nuclear fuel for at least 3,000 years.

The breakthrough would be a boon to the domestic industry, which is in the early stages of what looks likely to be the most spectacular burst of reactor-building in world history.

Due to surging demand for energy and growing concerns about pollution, China’s nuclear-power generating capacity is projected to increase up to tenfold in the next 10 years. By 2030 China could be on course to overtake the US as the world’s leading atomic energy producer.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/03/china-claims-new-nuclear-technology

Here’s a funny thing, though. We’ve all been told time and time again that China is investing in renewable energy, and that’s great. I have no problem with renewable energy. But their investment in solar and wind pales into insignificance next to the ten-fold increase in nuclear power over a single decade – and how often do you think we’ll hear that particular story?

In fact, not only does China stand to gain energy security from this investment, it will also be well placed to profit from marketing the technology and know-how abroad, like Western countries used to do before they were tied up by nay-sayers and technology-deniers:

China National Nuclear Corporation said last year it planned to invest 800bn yuan (£78bn) in the industry by 2020. China has already been replicating the technology of its foreign suppliers and is moving to design its own reactors and reprocessing plants. The next step is construction and overseas sales.

Personally, I say good luck to the Chinese – they are ensuring the energy security of their country in a real and realistic way. No one could fault them for that (for some other things, but not for that). It’s the governments in Western nations that are to blame here. With this technology (and who knows what further advances?) we could have enough energy and to spare for thousands of years.

Think about that when they tell you that we’re all gonna have to cut back a bit.

5 responses to “China Invests in Nuclear Tech – Now Has Enough Fuel for Next 3,000 Years

  1. In a strange way this article neatly links to the preceding one. Here we have an authoritarian government that, ostensibly at least, has ensured it has enough power for 3000 years, and nuclear power at that. Democratic governments are driven by vested interests not the people, so we have greens lobbying against nuclear power, coal power, oil power and gas power, and our dumb governments listen to them and have been caught like rabbits in a headlight unable to move because of these evil lobbyists. The Chinese have no such problems, you lobby the government at your own risk. But then again, I’m presuming the previous article was assuming that the authoritarian government would be run by Greens, a fascinating study in delusion because Greens have consistently shown themselves able at stopping things but incapable of making things happen.

  2. G’day all.

    I love that last sentance from geronimo. “…. Greens have consistently shown themselves able at stopping things but incapable of making things happen. ”

    We have a green infestation here in Australia.
    Permission to use said sentance in combat ! Sir!

  3. “Mainland China has 13 nuclear power reactors in operation, 25 under construction, and more about to start construction soon.

    Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world’s most advanced, to give more than a tenfold increase in nuclear capacity to 80 GWe by 2020, 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050.

    China is rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.

    Most of mainland China’s electricity is produced from fossil fuels (80% from coal, 2% from oil, 1% from gas in 2006) and hydropower (15%). Two large hydro projects are recent additions: Three Gorges of 18.2 GWe and Yellow River of 15.8 GWe. Rapid growth in demand has given rise to power shortages, and the reliance on fossil fuels has led to much air pollution. The economic loss due to pollution is put by the World Bank at almost 6% of GDP.1 In 2009 power shortages were most acute in central provinces, particularly Hubei, and in December the Central China Grid Co. posted a peak load of 94.6 GW.

    Domestic electricity production in 2009 was 3643 billion kWh, 6.0% higher than the 3,450 billion kWh in 2008, which was 5.8% more than in 2007 (3,260 billion kWh) and it is expected to rise to 3,810 billion kWh in 2010. Installed capacity had grown by the end of 2009 to 874 GWe, up 10.2% on the previous year’s 793 GWe, which was 11% above the previous year’s 713 GWe.2 Capacity growth is expected to slow, reaching about 1600 GWe in 2020. At the end of 2007, there was reported to be 145 GWe of hydro capacity, 554 GWe fossil fuel, 9 GWe nuclear and 4 GWe wind, total 713 GWe. In 2008, the country added 20.1 GWe of hydro capacity, 65.8 GWe coal-fired capacity, and 4.7 GWe wind.”

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html

  4. …the Chinese have solved the problem of reprocessing spent uranium, and hence have not only solved their energy problems, but largely solved the problem of what to do with nuclear waste as well.

    Not so, the Americans solved that problem. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Look it up. When the uranium is TRULY spent in a thorium reactor, its half life is one week. One LFTR that the Americans built in Tennessee operated perfectly fine from 1965 to 1969. It is a mystery to me why the industry uses “dirty” light water fast breeder reactors.

    • Hi Maverick,

      i was actually aware of that – what i should of made a bit clearer is that the Chinese has have now also solved the problem for themselves now.
      America may have discovered it, but it looks like China will profit from it – whom do we blame for that?

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