From scratch to current stage, China’s nuclear power technology has experienced rapid development, and now China has begun to export nuclear power technology. As a kind of highly efficient and clean energy source, nuclear energy is also a priority option to solve energy crisis, replace traditional fossil fuels and reduce air pollution. By analyzing the short-term and long-term development trend of nuclear power in China, the paper has reached the following conclusions: (1) Under the current situation of excess supply, due to high investment cost of first-kind reactors, the decline of utilization hours and the additional cost of ancillary service obligations, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of the third generation nuclear power will significantly increase, and the internal rate of return (IRR) will significantly fall. In the short term, market competitiveness of nuclear power will be a major problem, which affects investment enthusiasm. (2) With technology learning of third generation technology, the LCOE of nuclear power will be competitive with that of coal power in 2030. (3) The CO2
emissions reduction potential of nuclear power is greater than coal power with CCS and the avoided CO2
costs of nuclear power is much lower. Therefore, nuclear power is an important option for China’s long-term low-carbon energy system transition. The paper proposes to subsidize the technical learning costs of new technology through clean technology fund at the early commercialization stage. When designing power market rules, the technical characteristics of nuclear power should be fully considered to ensure efficient operation of nuclear power.
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