China targets 20-percent growth in nuclear power installation

China’s plan to raise installed nuclear power capacity by 20 percent this year indicated the country is developing nuclear power in a safe and efficient way, a senior energy executive has said.

Nuclear power totaling 3.24 gigawatts (GW) will be added in 2013, according to a report of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s economic planner, on national economic and social progress, which was submitted to the ongoing annual parliamentary session.

The planned installation indicates that China is making greater efforts to develop nuclear power in a safe and efficient way, said He Yu, chairman of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.

According to a government white paper on energy released in October 2012, China had 15 nuclear power-generating units in operation with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW.

He said China has another 30 units currently under construction, which will add another 32.81 GW.

He said China will have the third-largest number of nuclear power-generating units in operation in the world by 2020, following the United States and France.

But even when the installed capacity of the units amounts to 58 GW by 2020, it will account for less than 4 percent of China’s total power-generating capacity, compared with over 50 percent in France at present, He said.

The October white paper stated that nuclear power only accounts for 1.8 percent of China’s total power output, far below the global average of 14 percent.

China’s nuclear power development came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis that occurred in Japan in March 2011.

The country suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis. The approvals were cautiously resumed in October 2012.

Authorities have vowed not to build any nuclear power plants in inland regions during the 2011-2015 period, as well as demanded that the world’s strictest safety requirements be applied to new plants.

However, “developing nuclear power is a natural choice in terms of improving China’s energy structure and ensuring safety,” He said.

In January, China broke ground on a 3-billion-yuan (476 million U.S. dollars) nuclear power project with a designed capacity of 200 megawatts in the city of Rongcheng in east China’s Shandong Province.

The project will be the first in the world to feature a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor with fourth-generation features to be used for commercial purposes. Developed by Tsinghua University, the reactor will start generating power by the end of 2017.


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