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China is 15 years ahead of US in nuclear power: Report

According to a report released on Monday, the US lags behind China by as much as 15 years in the development of advanced nuclear technology, largely due to Beijing's state-supported technology strategy and substantial financing, which provide it with a competitive advantage.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 New Delhi Published on: June 18, 2024 15:00 IST
Military vehicles carrying DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Square du
Image Source : REUTERS Military vehicles carrying DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles travel past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China

The US is as many as 15 years behind China on developing high-tech nuclear power as Beijing's state-backed technology approach and extensive financing give it the edge, a report said on Monday.

China has 27 nuclear reactors under construction with average construction timelines of about seven years, far faster than other countries, according to the study by Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute.

"China’s rapid deployment of ever-more modern nuclear power plants over time produces significant scale economies and learning-by-doing effects, and this suggests that Chinese enterprises will gain an advantage at incremental innovation in this sector going forward," the report said.

The US has the world's largest fleet of nuclear power plants and President Joe Biden's administration considers the virtually emissions-free electricity source to be critical in curbing climate change.
But after two large plants in Georgia came online in 2023 and 2024 billions of dollars over budget and delayed by years, no U.S. nuclear reactors are being built. A high-tech plant that had been planned to be built at a US lab was cancelled last year.

China's state-owned banks can offer loans as low as 1.4 per cent, far lower than available in Western economies. Its nuclear power industry has benefited from sustained state support and localization strategies that have allowed China to dominate sectors like renewable power and EVs. The world's first so-called fourth-generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactor at Shidao Bay came online last December. The China Nuclear Energy Association claims that the project involved the development of more than 2,200 sets of "world-first equipment" with a total localization rate of domestically produced materials of 93.4%.

Backers of high-tech reactors say they are safer and more efficient than current plants. Critics say some new reactors introduce proliferation and material risks. It has not all been smooth sailing for China.

The China Nuclear Energy Association has warned that there was a severe glut in nuclear component production, and "excessive competition" was driving down prices and causing losses.
Stephen Ezell, the report's author, said if the U.S. is serious about nuclear it should develop a robust national strategy involving more investment in research and development, identifying and accelerating promising technologies, and supporting the development of a skilled workforce. "While America is behind, it can certainly catch up technologically," said Ezell. The US Department of Energy did not comment on the report.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: India has more nuclear weapons than Pakistan, China records surge in stockpile: Report

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