The country will accelerate the construction of nuclear power plants, particularly in the coastal regions, to ease mounting pressures on coal transportation from the northern regions and electricity transmission from west China, a top energy official said.
The move, which could see nuclear power making up a minimum of 5 percent of the country's total energy mix in 2020, from the current level of less than 2 percent, was announced yesterday by Zhang Guobao, chief of the newly elevated National Energy Bureau.
In 2005, the authorities had planned for the amount to hit 4 percent by 2020.
"We have decided to readjust our earlier goal for nuclear power development, and by 2020 the ratio will be at least 5 percent," said Zhang, whose bureau was elevated to national level during the recent administrative reshuffle approved at the annual session of National People's Congress.
The bureau remains part of the economic planning authority, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
He said the readjustment was decided after the country's central and southern regions were devastated by heavy snow in January and February, where trunk railways and power grids were severely damaged.
Zhang, who is also NDRC vice-minister, said the snow havoc had shown the country's energy security to be under threat from a "fragile supply-demand balance" of coal, which is mainly transported from northern China to power the economic hubs in the southern and eastern regions.