Loading the fuel into the Hualong One reverse reactor in September, one of the final stages of construction. – Photo: Hu Jie / Xinhua
China yesterday started the first nuclear reactor that is entirely of its own making. With the Hualong One, the People’s Republic wants to shake off its dependence on Western technology.
The reactor was connected to the electricity grid on Friday. It has a capacity of 10 billion kilowatt hours and, according to the developer, will reduce the country’s CO2 emissions by 8.16 million tons annually.
In a press release, that developer, the state-owned nuclear corporation CNNC, received an official pat on the back from the government. China boasts that with this achievement it has broken ‘the monopoly of foreign nuclear technology’.
In 2019, the Chinese nuclear power plants accounted for ‘only’ 5 percent of the electricity demand. To achieve its self-imposed target of becoming carbon neutral by 2060, China wants to focus on nuclear energy.
Unbridled state support results in a trade war
Beijing is also pursuing the independence of Western technology in strategic sectors such as nuclear. That is described in the economic vision plan ‘Made in China 2025’.
In this context, the government injected tens of billions of renminbi into Chinese companies, sparking resentment among the Asian superpower’s trading partners. It is that dynamic that eventually led to the trade war with the US.
CNNC began construction of the Hualong One in 2015. The state-owned company has announced that six other nuclear reactors are currently under construction, in China and abroad.