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Nuclear industry seeks self-reliance

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-24 07:22
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SHANGHAI: China is looking to fuel its nuclear power industry with largely self-developed technology by 2020 as it gradually reduces its reliance on imported technology, a senior academic of the nation's top science institute said Monday.

The country has been advocating greater dependence on nuclear energy as part of its efforts to reduce global warming gases emitted by burning fossil fuels.

China's first self-developed pressurized water reactor is expected to be put to use by 2017, Ouyang Yu, an academic of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

The objectives will be achieved based on the digestion and development of the latest technology acquired through the purchase of four nuclear reactors and technological transfer from the Westinghouse Electric Company.

During a workshop on the third generation nuclear power technologies in Shanghai yesterday, the head of China Atomic Energy Authority, Sun Qin, reiterated the nation's ambition to develop new generation nuclear power technology.

But the nation will have to maintain the policy of combining self-reliance technological development and foreign design imports in the short term, Zhang Huazhu, president of China Nuclear Energy Association, said.

The government recently announced the purchase of four reactors from the US company, with an estimated total price of up to $8 billion.

Along with the purchase will come the transfer of AP1000 technology, which is believed safe, cost efficient and advanced compared with the 1970s-era reactors that dominate in China.

The deal, in which the extent of technology transfers includes design of the equipment and nuclear facilities as well as technical support, will be completed in May, and the first of the four reactors will begin to generate power by 2013.

"It will take a few years for China to absorb the technology and the nation is keen to come up with its own design for the third-generation nuclear facilities," said Ouyang, also chief designer of China's first self-built nuclear power plant.

"By 2020, we could basically rely on our own technology."

As it seeks to reduce its reliance on coal-fired, polluting plants, China is committed to increasing nuclear power generation capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2020, about five times the installed capacity in 2005.

The nation plans to build a strategic reserve of natural uranium. Ouyang said the nation's own uranium ore supply could meet the nation's demands by 2020.