China is ramping up its green energy push with the deployment of over 10 units of Hualong One, a cutting-edge third-generation nuclear reactor that’s been developed and manufactured locally. Yang Changli, chairman of the China General Nuclear Power Corp, confirmed that construction is underway for 11 Hualong One units across the country, with some of them located in provinces like Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Hainan. The third Hualong One unit, built in western China at the Fangchenggang nuclear power plant, was connected to the grid for the first time earlier this year and is set to go online in the first half of the year. Designed by two Chinese nuclear power heavyweights, China National Nuclear Corp and CGN, the Hualong One reactor marks a major milestone in China’s bid to create its own third-generation nuclear power infrastructure with fully-owned proprietary intellectual property rights.
A single Hualong One unit has the capability to generate around 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, which is enough to power approximately one million people for a year. With its production of clean energy, each unit can help save more than 3 million metric tons of coals per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.28 million tons per year.
Data from China’s National Energy Administration indicates that there are currently 53 nuclear power units with a combined installed capacity of 55.57 million kilowatts generating nearly 5 percent of the country’s total electricity output. An additional 28 units with an installed capacity of 32.72 million kW have also been approved for construction. Despite the potential of nuclear power as a stable and reliable source of clean energy, its widespread installation in densely populated areas has been limited by concerns over reactor safety and the potential adverse effects of accidents. Experts like Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University in Fujian province, suggest that further technology advancements are still necessary in both construction and operation.
However, Yang suggests that nuclear energy holds tremendous potential in other fields like heating and hydrogen production. China has already commenced operations for three nuclear power heating projects, including the first nuclear heating project in Northeast China, which went live last November, providing clean heating to nearly 20,000 residents in Hongyanhe township in Dalian, Liaoning province. The Shandong Haiyang Nuclear Power Station and Zhejiang Qinshan Nuclear Power Station have also begun nuclear heating operations. As a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body, Yang recently submitted a proposal suggesting the approval of more than 10 units of nuclear reactors each year by the government to ensure energy security.