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4 - Enabling a Significant Nuclear Role in China’s Decarbonization

Loosening Constraints, Mitigating Risks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2021

Henry Lee
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Daniel P. Schrag
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Matthew Bunn
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Michael Davidson
Affiliation:
University of California, San Diego
Wei Peng
Affiliation:
Penn State University
Wang Pu
Affiliation:
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
Mao Zhimin
Affiliation:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
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Summary

While China is building nuclear reactors faster than any other country in the world, major constraints may limit nuclear energy’s ability to grow to the scale of hundreds of gigawatts that would be required for it to play a major part in decarbonizing China’s energy system. This chapter explores the major constraints on, and risks of, large-scale nuclear energy growth in China, and how both new policies and new technologies might address them. It focuses particularly on the two biggest constraints – economics and siting. Substantial government policies to support nuclear power and advanced reactor systems designed to address some of the key constraints are both likely to be needed for nuclear to have a chance of playing a major role in decarbonizing China’s energy system; nuclear energy’s role may be bigger in the second half of this century than in the first half.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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