Earnings of Chinese nuclear equipment manufacturers slid during the first half of the year, a sign that the government’s resolve to rely more on nuclear power has yet to rejuvenate the industry.
The weak results show that Beijing’s push to generate more nuclear energy has yet to put the equipment makers on a growth trajectory. They took a hit in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which caused China to halt approval for new nuclear plants.
Now the country’s often smog-choked skyline renews the urgency of increasing the share of nuclear power in its total energy supply. Speaking at a June meeting of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affair, President Xi Jinping said China would seek a more balanced energy supply system. “By adopting top international standards and ensuring safety, China should lose no time in constructing nuclear power projects in the eastern coastal regions,” he said.
China’s 17 operational nuclear power plants currently generate about 2% of the country’s total energy, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The State Energy Administration aims to deploy an additional 8.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by the end of this year, China Daily reported. Ye Qizhen, a nuclear energy expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Xinhua that 10% of China’s energy supply should come from nuclear power.