China will award a contract to build two nuclear reactors in its southeast to France’s Areva SA, a Chinese official said according to reports in China Daily and other publications.

The deal, covering two reactors for Yangjiang in Guangdong Province, had originally been awarded to Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co., which will get an agreement for two other reactors in Shandong Province. The sources said that China needs to add two reactors a year to meet a 2020 target of increasing the share of nuclear in total power from 2.3 percent to 4 percent. Areva and Westinghouse are competing to build as many as 26 more reactors by 2020 as China turns to atomic energy to cut pollution and carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on oil.

ChristinaMac posted in a January 2007 thread about nuclear power that:

Up until now, I’ve been thinking that the Chinese are just going to be conned into nuclear power by greedy uranium and nuclear technology corporations. Now I see that there’s a chance that they might wake up to this. I can’t help noticing that wherever “first and second world countries” have had experience of nuclear power — people don’t want it.

As OhmExcited pointed out in that same thread, France gets 80 percent of its electric power from nuclear, and the French people that I know seem very happy about it, merci beaucoup. Which “first and second world countries” with “experience of nuclear power” is ChristinaMac talking about?

China’s current plan to boost nuclear generation to a mere 4 percent of total power by 2020 is simply a matter of way too little, way too late.

Now here’s a question for the rapidly thinning ranks of the reality-based. Got your spreadsheets ready?

Assuming North America and Europe actually manage to stabilize their carbon emissions by 2010 (and I realize that on current performance that may be a ridiculous assumption), and assuming average annual GDP growth of around 7 percent (well below recent levels) in China and India over the next 13 years, how much of their total energy would China and India have to get from nuclear by 2020 for there to be a snowball’s chance in hell (and I don’t mean that as a literary figure) for the planet to be on track to hold global carbon emissions constant at 2010 levels into the mid-21st century?

Extra credit: If you believe your answer to the first question, what should we do about it? (Other than look for soon-to-be beachfront real estate opportunities in the Rockies, I mean.)