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The Political Economy of China’s Nuclear Energy Expansion: a Faustian Bargain for Energy Security?

Sinclair-Heddle, Melanie-Jane (2015) The Political Economy of China’s Nuclear Energy Expansion: a Faustian Bargain for Energy Security? Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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China’s economic rise over recent decades has led to a corresponding increase in China’s domestic energy consumption and requirements, and import of fossil fuels. This, coupled with international pressure to reduce fossil fuel consumption and seek alternatives, has led China to seek strategies to diversify its energy mix and provide long-term solutions to the seemingly intractable energy security challenges it is currently facing. In response, China has sought to expand its operational nuclear power capacity, with a goal of becoming energy self-sufficient. This thesis examines the reasons why China has chosen nuclear power to over-come its energy security challenges, and whether this strategy will pose challenges of its own. Some argue that China does not possess sufficient known domestic uranium reserves to be able to fulfil its nuclear expansion ambitions, and may be in danger of placing itself in a position of greater resource-dependency vis-à-vis uranium – effectively providing the foundations for a ‘Faustian bargain’ to occur, along with geo-political risk-taking. With increasing improvements being made to nuclear reactor design, and advancing uranium detection, exploration, and extraction technologies, however, this thesis argues that China’s current known uranium reserves will be more than sufficient to enable these plans to be realised and secure China’s energy future.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
Supervisor(s): Wilson, Jeffrey
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