China to be the largest nuclear market by capacity in 2026

Capacity will hit almost 100GW, beating that of US.

China's nuclear sector will continue to expand rapidly, with nuclear capacity surging to almost 100GW by the end of BMI Research's 10-year forecast period in 2026.

This will result in China being the largest nuclear market globally by capacity, marginally larger than the US. By expanding its own domestic nuclear sector, the country will develop the expertise to export nuclear capabilities and nuclear technology abroad.

China's nuclear power expansion gathered pace over 2016, with government data suggesting that nuclear capacity totalled nearly 34 gigawatts (GW) by end-2016, up from around 26GW in 2015, by far the most nuclear capacity brought online by any country over 2016.

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This very much aligns with our forecasts and we expect China's nuclear sector to continue to expand, with capacity increasing by an annual average of 10.8% between 2017 and 2026, resulting in almost 100GW of installed nuclear capacity by the end of our 10-year forecast period.

China will be the largest nuclear market globally by capacity in 2026, marginally larger than the current leader - US.

We have long-held a bullish outlook on China's nuclear sector and the country's huge pipeline of reactors that are planned, proposed or under construction supports our growth forecasts. The government aims to have 58GW of nuclear capacity online by 2020-21, and 150GW by 2030.

Driving this growth is the Chinese government's strong desire to reduce coal in the power mix and promote cleaner sources of power - including nuclear power - in order to tackle the country' pollution issue. Although coal will remain the dominant fuel in China's power mix, we expect alternative fuels such as nuclear, renewable energy and gas to gain prominence over the coming decade. As such, we expect coal's share of the power mix to gradually fall to just under 54% by 2026 - from roughly 70% currently.

By expanding its own domestic nuclear sector, the country will develop the expertise to export its own nuclear capabilities and technology abroad; China is already largely self-sufficient in terms of reactor design and construction.

Promoting its nuclear technology abroad will play a key role in China's wider 'Going Global' and 'One Belt One Road' strategy, and Chinese nuclear companies are already securing international contracts to develop new nuclear capacity, for example in Pakistan, Argentina and the UK.

Lastly, Chinese nuclear companies have sufficient financial firepower to take on the significant capital costs involved in developing new nuclear reactors.

The merger between China Power Investment Corp (CPIC) and State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC), the tie-up between CNNC and CGN to develop the Hualong reactor, and the IPO by CNNC in 2015 have all helped the domestic nuclear companies to build-up the financial resources to both expand domestically and export Chinese nuclear technology abroad.