Nuclear Power Station in China (Photo : Getty Images)
China's nuclear power industry should be given priority by ensuring that nuclear power plants become the primary source of power in the country while its output should not be adjusted for fluctuations in power demand, according to the country's top nuclear industry executive, China Daily reported.
He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corp, also called for additional construction and use of a connected grid across provinces and regions to maintain the consistent supply of clean energy.
"Not given full play, nuclear reactors are constantly and sometimes consistently shut down like other power units when the region's electric grid is at or beyond capacity," He said during the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
"The country has set strict security measures for nuclear development, which means that the sector requires more investment while nuclear projects require a longer construction period," He added.
A report from IHS Market Inc said that the overcapacity in power generation was noticed as early as 2013 before it reached its peak in 2015. But as demand growth slows, overcapacity is expected to continue for another five years, the report added.
the report said that despite the rise in power demand, many of the plants will not be used as originally planned.
According to He, about 35 nuclear power reactors are currently operating in China, which has a total installed capacity of 33.6 GW by the end of 2016, contributing about 2 percent of China's overall installed electric capacity.
BMI Research said that about 8 GW of nuclear power capacity were added last year, raising the installed capacity to about 34 GW.
Waste of nuclear energy
In December, the National Development and Reform Commission said in its 2016-2020 development plan for the power industry that China's nuclear power is expected to hit 58 GW by the end of the decade.
He said that a total 46.2 billion kilowatt-hours of power were wasted last year, which account for about 19 percent as its power industry was capable of generating 242.8 billion kilowatt-hours that year.
He added that the suspension of nuclear reactors result in the waste of uranium and also raise the cost of nuclear waste disposal.
According to He, nuclear power is taken as a base load supply in many countries such as the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom and South Korea and they would not suspend their nuclear operation even when there are fluctuations in energy demand.
"Nuclear energy plays an irreplaceable role in China's energy security, helping to reduce air pollution caused by coal-fired power generation," He said.
"China's energy sector has been dominated by coal, accounting for 64 percent of primary energy use, far above the global average of around 30 percent," he added.
Renewable energy plan
The government vowed to make use of renewable energy in its sustainable development plan, which is expected to boost the amount of non-fossil energy to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030 while reducing the consumption of coal for energy use to 62 percent by 2020.
Wang Binghua, chairman of State Power Investment Corp, and Wang Shoujun, president of the State-owned China Nuclear Engineering Group Co, who were at the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee, also called for the use of nuclear power plants as the main source of energy supply.
Meanwhile, an analyst agreed that nuclear energy must not be shut down even during irregular energy demand.
"It is far from ideal not to maximize the loads of nuclear reactors, as the general traditional convention or view is that it is not good to lower and then raise the load factors for nuclear reactors frequently from a safety perspective," Joseph Jacobelli, a senior analyst with Asia utilities and infrastructure research at Bloomberg Intelligence, said.