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China Power Hardware Science

China Slowing Nuclear Buildout In Response To Fukushima 109

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the safety-first dept.
Lasrick writes "Yun Zhou writes about the end result of China's long reconsideration of nuclear power safety in the wake of Fukushima. Important details about the decision to adopt designs created in China, and incorporate Gen III in those designs." The short version is that they won't be building more Generation II reactors, opting instead to only build Generation III reactors (which have passive safety systems). Instead of relying entirely on the AP1000, China is speeding up the design of their own Generation III reactors. Plans are still in place for 70GW by 2020, but that date will likely slip due to regulatory delays and the temporary construction moratorium.
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China Slowing Nuclear Buildout In Response To Fukushima

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  • Great... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:20PM (#40500541)
    Yet another area that China will be ahead of the US on before long. I realize that there's still a lot that the US has going for it. But it's feeling more and more like we are just sitting on our asses and admiring past achievements. It's getting rather embarrassing. Perhaps it's time to seriously consider learning Mandarin.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tragedy (27079) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:43PM (#40500717)

    It does say right in the summary that they are focusing on generation III reactors with passive safety systems. So they are specifically addressing the "50 year old" part you mention. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "insufficient battery backup", but I'm guessing you're referring to the problems powering and operating the cooling pumps. Addressed by the the passive safety systems.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:55PM (#40500797)

    Are they building their new nuclear reactors with 50 year old technology on fault lines next to an ocean with an insufficient battery back up? That would be the only reason a sensible person would look at the Fukushima and decide not to build a nuclear power plant.

    Probably close to all 3 of the above actually.

    Seriously.

    That fault line isn't a valid building location? No problem sir, how much to 'move the fault line' on that map? Done and done. China has a big coast, that's most of their economic activity, and if not a coast, a major river (which faces essentially the same weird random shit happening problem). Things like safe materials and locations aren't high priorities when you can bribe your way to safety.

    And 50 year old technology. Well are you going to sell them brand new technology? How new is our technology? For quite a while we weren't doing anything dramatically different with reactor designs in the west. So... maybe not a 50 year old design, but a design that is basically 40 years old? That wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.

    There are lessons every reactor can learn from fukushima about, as you say, battery backups and various types of alternate power arrangements and so on. But their 'generation II' reactors in many cases are technology from the 50's through the 70's give or take some minor updating but the core reactor tech didn't change much. Fukushima Daiichi used boiling water reactors which, from the article, are generation 2 reactors. Which is what the chinese are phasing out.

    Reactor technology didn't radically change much in the last 40 years, or even a bit longer than that. At least not in the core mode of operation (boiling water, gas cooled, pressurized water etc.). Add to that the fact that the chinese are probably doing a shitty job of actually building the reactors in some cases (where the japanese built it the way it was intended, the design just wasn't up to the disaster, would you want to have trusted chinese concrete with that problem too?) and you're begging for trouble. A lot of it.

    If you read up on the AP1000... while I'd be confident of westinghouse building them properly in the US, there's a LOT that can go wrong with that design if people try and cut corners. If I were the chinese government I'd be thinking they aren't really the best plan given corruption. Lopping off the head of a corrupt official doesn't put 100 000 people back in their homes.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:58PM (#40500815)

    Stole? They're using AP1000 reactors from westinghouse. That's not theft, that's called buying. Now to get the contract Westinghouse agreed to a join project with the chinese on a new reactor design that the chinese will own the domestic IP to, but export is still westinghouse. Which is what is otherwise called a technology transfer or sale of technology.

    They're probably figuring building them in china, with corrupt chinese workers and officials is a recipe for disaster.

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:02PM (#40500835)

    After all, there are several parts of China that are quite earthquake-prone and given what happened at Fukushima, the Chinese will definitely build reactors with passive safety features so the reactor can be safely shut down even after a strong earthquake.

    That's why China is aggressively pursuing molten-salt reactor technology such as the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), which are extremely safe to run even in areas of substantial earthquake danger. (It also helps that China has a large stockpile of thorium--a side product of their aggressive rare-Earth mining program. They Chinese might as well put good use to all that thorium.)

  • Re:Great... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:06PM (#40500857)

    There is no rational reason for China and America to be rivals
     
    Access to scarce resources, including oil. Political/military influence in Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan etc). Human rights. China's vast industrial and military espionage programs against the USA. There are lots of things that USA has and China wants, rationally.

  • Re:Great... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:15PM (#40500905)

    That doesn't mean we have to be enemies, with the current administration building bases just a few miles off the Chinese coast. We should sell democracy through EXAMPLE not intimidation or bombing.

    And also trade so China becomes dependent upon us and the rest of the world, and would not want to attack their profitable markets. The idea that we have to fight over oil and political/military influence only benefits the War industries. Not us.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:17PM (#40500917)

    Knowledge costs money to produce. Hence we have IP laws. If you design nuclear reactors for a living giving away your work with no ownership protection will put you out of a job very quickly. Westinghouse has (correctly) figured that the reactor business is go no where in the US, so they're basically willing to cannibalize any future business they could have had to get money now from the chinese, and then it becomes chinas problem if no one will buy the reactors. All those Westinghouse workers should expect to be out of a job within the decade.

    Quite a lot of people have fought, bribed and died over the borders of countries, they mean quite a lot to a lot of people. Even the company that pays me is important in that I don't have any money if they don't pay me.

  • Re:Great... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:13PM (#40501209)

    "There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others." N. Machiavelli

    Nonsense. There are far fewer wars today than ever before in history, despite a larger population. No where in the world are two nation states at war with each other. Other than tribal and sectarian violence, the world is at peace, and increasingly likely to stay that way.

  • Re:Great... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cheetah (9485) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @04:03AM (#40502917)

    Basically everything you said is true.

    The biggest advantage(and disadvantage) that I think they have from a political stand-point is the ability to make and then execute long term plans. It is something that is really missing with most of the democratic west. Granted, I don't think they always make good long term plans, heck often they do rather foolish things... but they can at least tackle problems that require long term solutions.

    But I do think you are missing a one important point about China. You and I both agree that we wouldn't want to live with in dictatorship. But many Chinese feel that what they government has done has been for the best. Mainly due the the strength of the Chinese economy. While they do often fib on the exact numbers, it's impossible to discount that China has been growing the GDP at a rate of 10-15% per year for the last 20 years.

    It's this fact more than any other that has won the hearts of the people in China. So much of the communist governments legitimacy is riding on ever increasing economic prosperity. If the economy faltered badly... who knows what would happen.

    That is why the news from China isn't all that good. Most of the talk for the last few years has been about the "soft landing" that the Chinese Economy will soon make. It's just not possible for them to keep growing the way they have. It's much easier to grow a small economy than it is grow a large one. Most people expect that the "soft landing" will be a general slowing of the GDP growth rate to between 7-8%.

    But over the last few months it's starting to become clear that China isn't getting a soft landing. As you point-out official numbers have been downright faked in the past. But metrics do exist that outsiders can look at and that have been reliable; for instance growth of electricity usage. In the past electricity use has closely followed the GDP. But it has basically been flat over the last 3 months. Other items point to a "hard landing" in China.

    It's possible that this will all come to nothing and they won't slow that much... but I feel that long-term they can't have the massive corruption and mis-management if they don't also have the hugh GDP growth. I don't think the people would be nearly as happy with the government if they were frequently dipping into recession and had boughs of high unemployment like most other established economies. While also seeing the massive government corruption and mismanagement. Such periods of slow growth and recession are inevitable in the future even if they don't happen over the short-term.

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