China is rapidly moving up the global nuclear power leaderboard. Since 2012, as the traditional leaders in nuclear energy production have remained stagnant or backed off of their reliance on nuclear in the wake of Fukushima, China has added 11 new reactors and over 11 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity.
By the end of this year, China is expected to pass Russia and South Korea and boast the fourth-largest nuclear generating capacity in the world, behind the United States, France, and Japan. By 2020 it will likely replace Japan in third place.
This trend shows no signs of slowing, because China has huge ambitions for adding new reactors, including advanced reactor designs, in the coming decades (see “Nuclear Options”). The country plans to increase its capacity from 23 gigawatts currently to 58 gigawatts by 2020, at which point it is also aiming to have 30 additional gigawatts under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association. Right now, of the 64 reactors being built around the world, 24 are in China—15 more than in second-place Russia.
The Chinese government is banking on nuclear playing a significant role in helping it achieve its goals of having 15 percent of overall energy consumption come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020, and 20 percent by 2030 (in 2012, 91 percent came from fossil fuels, according to the Energy Information Administration).
Nuclear will also be very important, in addition to wind, solar, and hydropower, if China is to deliver on its promise that its annual emissions will level off no later than 2030 (See: “China Could Deliver on Its Carbon Promise Earlier than Expected”).
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.
Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.
Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.
AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.
What’s next for AI in 2024
Our writers look at the four hot trends to watch out for this year
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.