China announces nuclear fuel breakthrough
New technology will allow China's nuclear energy sources to last well beyond the original estimate of 50 to 70 years.
Mon, Jan 03, 2011 at 02:13 AM
NEW FUEL TECH: The Ningde nuclear power plant under construction in southeast China's Fujian Province on Dec. 28, 2010. China has announced that it can re-use nuclear fuel, extending the life of nuclear sources. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in nuclear fuel reprocessing technology that could effectively end any uranium supply concerns, state media reported on Monday.
The technology developed by state-run China National Nuclear Corp enables the country to re-use irradiated nuclear fuel, China Central Television said.
"China's proven uranium sources will last only 50 to 70 years, but this now changes to 3,000 years," said the report.
The development would be an important step forward in China's plans to increase the share of alternative power sources in its energy mix to reduce pollution and achieve energy security.
It has stepped up investment in nuclear power in an effort to slash carbon emissions and reduce the nation's heavy reliance on polluting coal, which accounts for 70 percent of its power needs.
China, now the world's second-largest economy after surpassing Japan in 2010, aims to get 15 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
China aims to increase nuclear power capacity to 70-80 gigawatts by 2020, accounting for about five percent of the country's total installed power capacity, state press reports have said.
The government said previously the target was 40 gigawatts.
China currently produces around 750 tonnes of uranium a year but annual demand could rise to 20,000 tonnes a year by 2020 as it boosts nuclear power output, the China Daily newspaper has said.
Copyright 2011 AFP Asian Edition