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China Replacing U.S. as World Leader in Nuclear Power

China is building nuclear reactors faster than the U.S., and Beijing’s nuclear firms are up to 15 years ahead of their American counterparts when it comes to the latest reactor technology, according to a new report by the Washington-based Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, according to Axios.

Currently, the U.S. has 94 reactors, China has 56 and 27 more under construction, and with authorities in Beijing aiming to complete between six and eight new nuclear plants every year for the foreseeable future, the report’s authors predict that China will have more operational plants than the U.S. by 2030. But the variety and scope of the Chinese program is absolutely dramatic.

China is already leading the U.S. when it comes to so-called “fourth-generation” reactors, the report noted. The world’s first fourth-generation plant—the 200 MW gas-cooled Shidaowan-1 facility in China’s Shandong province—came online in December, with China’s Nuclear Energy Administration stating that “90% of the technology in the new plant was developed within China.” The facility features two high-temperature, helium gas-cooled modular pebble bed reactors that can produce 250 MW each, alongside a steam generator with an installed capacity of 200 MW.

China is also leading in the construction of the world’s first multipurpose SMR (small modular reactor) demonstration project, with a power capacity of up to 300 MW per unit. The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics is getting ready to launch the world’s first molten salt and thorium nuclear reactor, the TMSR-LF1 in China’s Gansu province. China is also the third country to develop a floating nuclear reactor.

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