HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

James R. Schlesinger Professor of the Practice of Energy, National Security, and Foreign Policy


While China is building nuclear reactors faster than any other country in the world, major constraints may limit nuclear energy’s ability to grow to the scale of hundreds of gigawatts that would be required for it to play a major part in decarbonizing China’s energy system. This chapter explores the major constraints on, and risks of, large-scale nuclear energy growth in China, and how both new policies and new technologies might address them. It focuses particularly on the two biggest constraints – economics and siting. Substantial government policies to support nuclear power and advanced reactor systems designed to address some of the key constraints are both likely to be needed for nuclear to have a chance of playing a major role in decarbonizing China’s energy system; nuclear energy’s role may be bigger in the second half of this century than in the first half.


Bunn, Matthew. "Enabling a Significant Nuclear Role in China’s Decarbonization: Loosening Constraints, Mitigating Risks." Foundations for a Low-Carbon Energy System in China. Ed. Lee, Henry, Daniel P. Schrag, Matthew Bunn, Michael Davidson, Wei Peng, Wang Pu, and Mao Zhimin. Cambridge University Press, 2021, 65-100.