China has added more than 34 GW of nuclear power capacity in the past ten years, nearly tripling its nuclear capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The country has increased its number of operating nuclear reactors to 55 with a total net capacity of 53.2 GW, as of April 2024.

An additional 23 reactors with an estimated 23.7 GW capacity are currently under construction in China, EIA added. The United States still has the largest nuclear fleet, with 94 reactors, but it took nearly 40 years to add the same nuclear power capacity as China added in 10 years.

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency

Despite rapid capacity growth in 2022, nuclear power made up only about 5% of China’s cumulative power generation that year. Nuclear power accounts for about 18% of the electricity generation mix in the United States.

China’s nuclear fleet is concentrated near population centers in the eastern part of the country along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Nuclear reactors are located from the Liaoning province in the north to the Hainan province in the south. The country’s nuclear fleet consists mostly of pressurized water reactors (PWR), including Westinghouse-designed AP 1000s, each with a capacity of 1,157 MW, and the French Orano European Power Reactors, each with a capacity of 1,660 MW.

Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration; World Bank; Global Energy Monitor, Global Nuclear Power TrackerInternational Atomic Energy Agency

China implemented a long-term strategy in 2011 for nuclear power development to meet its electricity demand and to address environmental concerns. However, coal still remains China’s largest electricity generation source. Coal-fired capacity increased by 19.5 GW in China in 2022, bringing its total coal-fired capacity to 1,089 GW.

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