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UPDATED: February 27, 2012 NO. 9 MARCH 1, 2012
Safe and Efficient Power

China's rapid economic growth requires a source of energy to fuel it, which is why the country has to strive to develop its nuclear power sector.

Nuclear power has remarkable advantages in energy production efficiency. Through fission, the energy produced by 1 kg of uranium-235 is equal to that produced by 2,700 tons of coal. For a million-kw nuclear power plant, only 30 tons of nuclear fuel is needed every year, while a thermal power plant of the same capacity will need 3.3 million tons of coal. A nuclear power plant only releases 1.6 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by a thermal power plant of the same scale. Also, nuclear power plants do not emit sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides or dust, and nuclear power is a cheap source of electricity. Most of China's 13 nuclear power generators now offer electricity cheaper than local standard prices.

China has given priority to saving energy and reducing emissions in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15). By 2015 emissions of carbon dioxide will reduce by 17 percent compared to 2010, and emissions of sulfur dioxide will reduce by 8 percent; the proportion of non-fossil fuels will be raised from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 11.4 percent. To achieve these goals, China must develop clean energy.

The potential of hydropower in China is small, while wind power, solar energy and other new energies are unlikely to see rapid development due to technological bottlenecks and natural conditions. In comparison, nuclear power can provide stable and a large volume of power. It is also ahead of other new energy technologies in stability, reliability and technical and industrial maturity. Thus, developing nuclear power is clearly the best choice for China to secure its power supplies.

Development of nuclear power should be based on one thing: safety. After the Fukushima accident in March 2011, China accelerated the pace of its nuclear power safety checks. But compared with big nuclear power users such as the United States and France, which have more than 50 years of experience in nuclear power management, China is still a student. Therefore, China should not only carry out safety checks, but also strengthen international exchange and cooperation. Based on strict inspection, China needs to formulate stricter regulation on nuclear power safety. All the nuclear power plants that are currently in operation need to be supervised strictly, and the technology standards of those under construction need to be improved.

In the long term, the country should build a stronger team of nuclear power professionals, adopt advanced technologies and enhance safety measures to improve the safety and reliability of nuclear power plants.

The history of the development of nuclear power plants in the world proves that nuclear power is a comparatively safe source of energy. China should not abandon efforts of developing it.

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