Published: 30 Nov 2020, 10:45 am
A major move in Beijing's attempts to become less dependent on Western allies for energy security and essential technology, China has powered its first domestically built nuclear reactor, the Hualong One.
According to China National Nuclear Corporation, the reactor, which was linked to the national grid on Friday, will produce 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and slash carbon emissions by 8.16 million tons (CNNC), reports AFP.
“This marks China breaking the monopoly of foreign nuclear power technology and officially entering the technology’s first batch of advanced countries,” CNNC said in a statement.
According to the National Energy Administration, nuclear plants produced less than five percent of China's annual electricity needs in 2019, but this share is projected to rise as Beijing attempts to become carbon neutral by 2060.
Reducing its dependence on Western allies in critical high-tech sectors such as power generation is a key goal in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan.
In order to speed up the process, Chinese companies have been given billions of dollars in state subsidies, a development that has upset China's trading partners and ignited a lengthy trade row with Washington.
Work began on the Hualong One reactor in 2015 and, state-owned plant operator CNNC said there are currently six other reactors under construction at home and abroad.
The Hualong One, deployed at a plant in east China’s Fujian province, will be put into commercial use by the end of the year after undergoing tests.
China has 47 nuclear plants, the third-highest in the world after the United States and France, with a total generation capacity of 48.75 million kilowatts.
In recent years, Beijing has spent billions of dollars in expanding its nuclear energy industry as it struggles to wean coal from its economy.
Despite environmental and safety concerns, thirteen nuclear plants are under construction, more than in any other country.
In August 2016, officials were forced to shelve plans for a nuclear waste facility in Lianyungang, a city in eastern Jiangsu province, after a rare public protest by thousands of residents.