中国与世界,环境危机大家谈

china and the world discuss the environment

  • linkedin group
  • sini weibo
  • facebook
  • twitter
envelope

注册订阅每周免费邮件
Sign up for email updates


文章 Articles

A warning for China’s nuclear sector

Kevin Jianjun Tu

Readinch

The deadly Wenzhou crash highlights the dangers of mega-infrastructure projects moving too far, too fast. Chinese decision-makers should take note, argues Kevin Jianjun Tu.

article image
 

The collision of two high-speed trains just outside Wenzhou on the night of July 23 – an accident that killed at least 40 people and left more than 190 others injured – was the consequence of China’s love of grandiose public projects; of rash advances borne of impatience for results. This tragedy happened on China’s railways, but its significance does not stop there: the leadership must heed the warnings for other major undertakings at similar scale, most obviously the country’s nuclear-power construction frenzy.

High-speed rail and nuclear power appear unconnected but in fact have many similarities. Both are considered to be among the largest and most complex commercialised engineering projects. Both win attention and support from senior leaders on account of their role in economic development. And both impose safety risks that are too significant to be ignored.

In response to increasingly serious environmental challenges and energy-security concerns, Chinese policymakers have decided to pursue large-scale nuclear development as a technological solution. Although China only had 10.82 gigawatts of installed operational nuclear capacity at the end of 2010, a development plan drawn up by the National Reform and Development Commission – China’s top economic planner – in 2007, says that figure will climb to 40 gigawatts by 2020. There have been widespread reports that the government may raise the above target to between 70 gigawatts and 86 gigawatts, while some industry experts even claim 100 gigawatts is achievable. In other words, prior to the Fukushima crisis, China’s nuclear industry, backed by nuclear interest groups, was preparing for a great leap forward in nuclear power development. 

But Fukushima sounded warning bells with the Chinese government and gave policymakers another chance to reconsider plans for 2020. At a March 16 meeting chaired by premier Wen Jiabao, the State Council decided to call a temporary halt to approval of new nuclear-power plants pending new safety rules, and to adjust mid- and long-term nuclear power plans. This indicated a more cautious national strategy for nuclear power development.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of effective checks and balances on nuclear interest groups, there are signs that the great nuclear leap forward is reemerging. This is clear in the National 12th Five-Year Plan on Science and Technology Development, released by the Ministry of Science and Technology in July, which sets out plans to indigenise the untested Westinghouse AP1000 reactor model, and also to complete a demonstration plant for China’s own CAP1400 reactor by 2015. In comparison to China's “high efficiency”, a nuclear developer in an OECD country might not be able to obtain permission to build a new, technologically mature plant in the same amount of time.

The technological route taken for nuclear power and high speed rail is identical in China: key technologies have been imported from overseas in “technology for market” swaps. Since China’s first domestically designed and constructed pressurised water reactor was built in 1991 (CNP300 at Qinshan Phase I), China has imported the M310 (French 2nd generation technology), CANDU 6 (Canadian, 2nd generation), AES-91 (Russian, 2nd generation), AP1000 (US, 3rd generation) and EPR (French, 3rd generation).

It is extremely dangerous – in terms of standardisation of design, operational safety and ease of maintenance – for any nation to run so many different types of reactor simultaneously. China’s leaders should immediately limit further diversification of nuclear reactors and concentrate the nuclear sector’s human and financial resources on the research, development and commercialisation of just one or two types of standardised design.  

To meet the needs of rapid high-speed rail construction and to ensure operational safety, the Ministry of Railways oversaw development of the state-of-the-art Chinese Train Control System (CTCS). Theoretically, two trains equipped with CTCS, travelling on a track with other safety systems in place, could not possibly collide. But the Wenzhou collision – and nuclear accidents of the past – show that no technological innovations can completely eliminate the risk of human error in infrastructure design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. This is particularly important when it comes to nuclear safety. 

In response to the safety challenges raised by Fukushima, the Chinese government is reportedly considering abandoning construction of second-generation reactors at existing nuclear-power stations, opting instead to import more advanced technology. That includes more modern “passive” safety features that do not require operator actions or electronic feedback in order to shut down safely in the event of a particular type of emergency. This is a logical development, but Chinese decision-makers should avoid being overly confident about untried safety technologies. No matter how sound newer-generation nuclear technologies appear, such technologies may never have been sufficiently tested in any part of the world. All newer-generation nuclear technologies still impose significant risks in terms of design experience, construction safety and operational reliability.

Considering energy demand increases due to economic growth, burgeoning air pollution, increasingly vulnerable energy security and mounting political pressure to mitigate climate change, the Chinese government cannot easily resolve these simultaneous challenges. It is trying to balance the following types of energy: coal, with its emissions and pollution; oil, which pollutes the environment and raises energy security concerns; natural gas, which is scarce and requires huge investment; large hydropower projects, which have a disastrous impact on the environment; nuclear power, with its technological risks; and renewable energies, which are expensive and often unstable.

If China is to meet its energy and environmental challenges, the expansion of nuclear power seems unavoidable. But the Chinese government must understand that giving due attention to safety is crucial to realising these ambitions – without consistent and moderate mid- and long-term plans for nuclear expansion, ideas such as energy-saving and emissions-reduction, sustainable development and sector upgrades will come to naught.

Too many uncertainties over the technological roadmap for nuclear power mean that, in the short term, China's nuclear expansion plans should focus on stability. The target of 40 gigawatts of installed operational nuclear capacity by 2020, set in 2007, should not be increased in the near future. If technology transfer of third-generation nuclear technologies is successful, the 2020 target can be adjusted during the 13th Five-Year Plan period accordingly.

Kevin Jianjun Tu is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he leads the China Energy & Climate Program. He is also a non-resident research fellow at the Canadian Industrial Energy End-use Data and Analysis Centre.

Homepage image from Hattie119 shows the wreckage in Wenzhou.

评论 comments

3

评论 comments

中文

EN

嗨 Hi Guest user

退出 Logout /


发表评论 Post a comment

评论通过管理员审核后翻译成中文或英文 最大字符 1200

Comments are translated into either Chinese or English after being moderated. Maximum characters 1200

排序 Sort By:

nuclear power dangers

Given the media blackout of the ongoing effects of the multiple reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, the dangers of nuclear power will not be addressed until citizens of the planet are at least aware of the Nuclear News Now

http://realitycheck.no-ip.info/nnn.html

http://enenews.com

These are open nuke communities where discussion and sharing are welcome. Using google translator is also a great way to transcend language barriers.

核电的危险

鉴于媒体对于日本福岛核电站多反应堆泄漏事故所产生的后续影响的报道逐渐冷却、中断,核电的危险估计仍旧不会得到应有的重视。除非现在地球上的公民们至少能开始关心现有的核新闻:
http://realitycheck.no-ip.info/nnn.html
http://enenews.com

这些都是开放的、欢迎讨论和交流的核能论坛。谷歌翻译对于解决语言障碍非常实用。


在风险问题上,核能根本不可行

在技术和规模上,核能的经济风险根本没办法跟高铁比。最坏的高铁事故也只能杀死几十个人,摧毁几百万美元的设施,但是一个核能事故会杀死几千人,几千亿的生产力的财产。很多次事故证明了核能电厂的设计不可能是没有缺陷的。一个小小的事故产生的损失就会超出整个核工业的价值。无论一个核电厂设计被鼓吹成多么安全和把可预见的风险都考虑进去了,没有任何设施可以抵挡这个危害,也随时会成为恐怖分子或传统敌人的武器。

In Terms of Risk, Nuclear Simply not Viable

While similar in terms of technical complexity and scale, the economic risks of nuclear power are in no way comparable to high speed trains. Worst case scenario train crashes might kill a few dozen people and destroy a few million dollars of property, but a worst case nuclear accident can kill thousands and eliminate on the order of a trillion dollars worth of productive property. It has been proven a number of times that nuclear facilities cannot be engineered to be fault free for the design life of the plants and the destructive potential of a single accident can exceed the entire value of the nuclear industry. Whatever claims might be made about the safety of a given nuclear design to "foreseeable risks", no facility is safe against modern penetrator weapons that could easily be wielded by terrorists or conventional enemies.


中国拥有布朗气的计量技术且不产生碳原子废料

中国目前所使用的布朗气体的计量技术来自澳大利亚,由已故的布朗教授所提出。这种技术不仅可以在9000摄氏度的高温下进行由水—氢氧化合物—水的转化并释放巨大能量,同时它也不产生任何废弃物如碳原子。在中国,这项技术由国有企业掌控,而废物利用却具有广泛的全球市场。在上个世纪60年代,当时布朗教授尚未离开中国,我们对盖革计数器的设置都来自对样本的最差的估计。在加拿大,我们进行了进一步的测试和记录。亲眼目睹能量爆破真是一个难忘的经历。在2011年,核能已有了自己的市场,但对核能反应堆的处理却一直备受关注,尤其在美国西北部,它甚至超越政治而被最优先考虑。2011年,中国拥有了布朗气的技术使用权,可能成为日本和其他国家的清理反应堆的领袖。

罗伯特文森

PRC has Stoichiometric Hydrogen Browns Gas implodes waste back to Carbon

China has stoichiometric hydrogen Browns gas technology transferred from Australia by the late Prof Brown. This technology in its own right produces energy H20-HHO-H20 as exhaust reaching in excess of 9000degrees C but it can implode atomic waste back to carbon. The PRC central government has control of this manufacturing plant. There exists a massive global market in waste disposal. Before Professor Brown departed to PRC last 1960s we disposed of the very worst sources with geiger counters set up all around specimens. Further tests were undertaken in Canada and recorded on web.
Witnessing implosion energy is an unique experience.
Basically nuclear energy has its place 2011 but the dedicated attention to disposal of stock piles especially in NW USA should be a top priority and beyond politics. PRC has 2011 technology on Browns Gas and as a nation can lead in cleaning up Japan and the other sites then stock pile
Robert Vincin


合作伙伴 Partners

项目 Projects