China aims at higher nuclear power capacity
Updated: 2008-11-06 14:49

China may raise its total installed nuclear power generating capacity to 70 million kilowatts by 2020, 75 percent higher than government target set in 2006, says a senior energy official.

The government was considering revising the 40-million-kw goal in the 2006 national nuclear power development plan, said Huang Li, head of energy conservation and equipment at the National Energy Administration (NEA).

"The severe winter weather earlier this year in southern China that paralyzed electricity supplies and coal transportation exposed risks and vulnerability in the traditional power supply system," said Huang.

The global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions had prompted China, which relied heavily on coal, to revise its energy strategy and increase the proportion of clean energy, she told a Sino-US symposium on nuclear equipment in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.

The move reflected China's determination to develop sustainable energy to fuel its fast expanding economy and fulfill its commitment to environmental protection, said Huang Xueqing, vice president of the Nuclear Power Institute of China.

The installed capacity of thermal power stations already accounted for 76 percent of China's total installed generating capacity. Contributing about 84 percent of the overall power supply, coal-based power has become a major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The current installed capacity of nuclear power is only about 9 million kw, or 1.3 percent of the total installed electricity generating capacity. It provides 2.3 percent of China's power.

Nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of 12.1 million kw are under construction across China.

Zhang Guobao, head of NEA, said in March that China would try to raise the proportion of nuclear power to 5 percent of the total installed generating capacity by 2020, up 1 percent from the goal set in 2006.

China has 11 nuclear power reactors in operation, all employing second-generation nuclear power technologies.

The establishment of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation could speed up the research and application of modern third-generation technologies, said Zhang.

Preparations were underway for the construction of four nuclear power plants -- two in Zhejiang Province and two in Shandong Province -- that would use advanced AP1000 technologies designed by US firm Westinghouse.

Nuclear power should take priority in China's energy plan, and was an ideal option for boosting clean energy, said Huang Xueqing.

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