China Plans Small Floating Nuclear Power Stations

File photo: China National Nuclear Power Company

Published Aug 14, 2017 2:46 AM by The Maritime Executive

A consortium of Chinese organizations is teaming up with state-owned China National Nuclear Power Company to develop and produce small, floating nuclear power plants.

The new venture will have $150 million in funding and will include Zhejiang Zheneng Electric Power, Shanghai Guosheng Group, Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard Group and Shanghai Electric Group.

The plants will be able to sail to where they are needed and could be used to operate drilling equipment for offshore oil and gas fields, to power facilities on the remote islands of the South China Sea, to meet heating and desalination needs or to run nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The reactors may also be exported to economies with large populations but scarce land resources, including economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The technology used may involve high temperature gas-cooled reactors which China is jointly developing with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

China is expected to build 20 floating nuclear power stations. 

Russia’s nuclear agency is developing floating nuclear power plants that are destined for Arctic waters. Rosenergoatom (part of Rosatom) launched the project in 2006, and the first such plant, the non-self-propelled Akademik Lomonosov, has been built at the Sevmash Shipyard. The 70MW plant is expected to be operational by 2019. The 144-meter (472-foot) vessel produces enough power for a town with a population of 200,000. It can be used as a desalination plant and has an expected operational life of 40 years.
Some experts believe that the development of nuclear power will constitute an important component of China's future energy sector, as the average global proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power is 11 percent, while the number for China is only three percent.

As of May 2017, China has 37 land-based nuclear reactors operating with a capacity of 32.4 GW and 20 under construction with a capacity of 20.5 GW.