Inland nuclear power plant is not unfamiliar to us, as there are hundreds of reactor units being operated far away from the coast. However, China, which has the most of nuclear reactor units under construction and planning to build, has not officially approved any inland nuclear project to be constructed so far, even though there are many inland provinces in China put forward their nuclear energy development plan more than 5 years ago like Hunan, Hubei, and Jiangxi.
The reasons that Chinese government suspended all the inland nuclear power plant projects before come from 3 aspects, in my opinion.
The first difficulty China facing to build an inland nuclear power plant is China’s topography and climate. One of the necessary condition to locate a nuclear power plant is water. Unlike Europe, it is not very easy to find an ideal location in China that can serve stable and abundant water. Because of the seasonal climate, many places in China suffer floods during the summer and aridity during the winter. In addition, China is a country with frequent natural disaster such as seism and typhoon. These are the features have to be considered when the government locates a nuclear power plant.
The second is the demand of electricity in inland China is still not as crucial as China’s coastal region. Due to the limitation of topography and climate, almost all the potential inland nuclear power plants are decided to be constructed in the Yangzi River Basin. However, with the output of 84 billion kWh per year, the Three Gorges Project eased the pressure of the electricity demand in the basin to a great extent. On the other hand, in January, the Chinese president Xi Jinping required the Yangzi River Basin region to put the environmental protection on the priority in their next few years plans and do not initiate large-scale development project.
The last but not the least is the public attitude towards the nuclear power in China.
However, the economic benefits of a nuclear power plant is huge and obvious. For example, in Haiyan, the China Nuclear Power City where Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant located, the local fiscal revenue has grown 10 times in the past 20 years, 40% of the local GDP is directly driven by local nuclear industries. This is the main reason that many local governments intend to develop the nuclear industry in their region.
Taohuajiang, one of the planned inland nuclear power site
In June 2016, Shaanxi government and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced to build a nuclear power plant in Shaanxi Province. A team of experts from CNNC came to Shaanxi last week for the site selection and it is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. Several media in China predicted that the first inland nuclear power plant will be approved by the central government not later than 2017.
Do you think China should build inland nuclear power plants?