By Anders Lorenzen
While in some Western nations such as Germany the agenda is to replace coal and nuclear at the same time, the strategy in China is somewhat different.
In China, there has been no effort to decrease reliance on nuclear energy, they have continued to invest heavily in the energy source alongside renewables.
According to research done by analysts from Citi, a US bank, the share of nuclear power generation in China has picked up over the last three years with growth set to displace thermal coal in China by 22 million metric ton (MT) in 2019.
At current rates, the combined 2019 growth in nuclear and wind power in China will be around 100 million megawatt-hours (MWh), with the analysts explaining that 35 million MT of coal would be needed to create the same amount of electricity.
China has big ambitions to make it’s economy less reliant on coal and sees nuclear as a key ingredient in that target. The country wants to install 58 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear energy by 2020 and another whopping 30 GW by the end of next year. According to the State Council Information Office, there are currently 11 nuclear power plants under construction in China which would add to the 47 plants already operational. And in the coming months, construction will start on nuclear power plants in the Zhangzhou in the Fujian province and Huizhou in the Guangdong province.
In 2018 China imported a total of 281 million MT of coal with thermal coal accounting for over 70% of the total import volume. If the predictions from Citi bears truth the import figure from 2019 will be a lot less tightening the grip on the global coal industry.