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"Why is China Going Nuclear?"

The Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in Lianyungang city, Jiangsu province, 18 Aug. 2009. China is preparing to build 3 times as many nuclear power plants in the coming decade as the rest of the world combined.
AP Photo

"Why is China Going Nuclear?"

Journal Article, Energy Policy, volume 38, issue 7, pages 3755-3762

July 2010

Author: Yun Zhou, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), 2013–2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program (ISP)/MTA, 2011–2013; Former Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2010–2011; Former Research Fellow, ISP/MTA, 2009–2010

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



In November 2007, China's State Council approved its "Medium- and Long-Term Nuclear Power Development Plan", which set as a goal to increase the nation's nuclear capacity from about 7 to 40 GWe by 2020. In March 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission suggested installed nuclear power capacity might even exceed 60 GWe by 2020 due to faster than expected construction. Even with this growth, nuclear power's share of China's installed total capacity would be only about 5 percent. Yet China's rapid nuclear expansion poses serious financial, political, security, and environmental challenges. This study investigates China's claim that nuclear energy is necessary to meet its growing energy demands by analyzing China's energy alternatives and assessing their likelihood of contributing to total Chinese capacity. By looking at China's transformative energy policy from several perspectives, this study finds that nuclear energy is indeed a necessity for China.


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For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Zhou, Yun. "Why is China Going Nuclear?." Energy Policy 38, no. 7 (July 2010): 3755-3762.

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