China is aiming to have a nuclear power capacity of 60 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, a 50 percent jump from an earlier target outlined in its energy blueprint, industry sources said.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning body, is pondering revising the target in the medium- and long-term plan (2005-20) in the first quarter of 2009 and submitting the revised plan to the State Council, sources close to the project said.
According to the earlier plan for the industry, China would increase its nuclear power capacity to 40 GW by 2020, accounting for 4 percent of the nation's total power capacity.
China currently has only 9 GW of nuclear power capacity, or about 1.3 percent of its total.
NDRC Vice-Minister Zhang Guobao said in March that the 40-GW-plan should be readjusted.
"We should increase the nuclear power capacity to 5 percent of the total power capacity in 2020," he said.
Zhang, who is also director of the National Energy Administration, said the agency would help further boost the development of nuclear power in the country.
During the reorganization of ministries at this year's National People's Congress, the management of the nuclear sector was transferred from the former Commission of Science and Technology and Industry for National Defense to the National Energy Administration.
China this week started the construction of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in Guangdong province with an investment of 70 billion yuan.
The plant will have six 1,000-megawatt (MW) units with the first unit to begin operation in 2013.
Last month, the construction of a 100-billion-yuan nuclear power plant was kicked off in Fujian province.
The plant is designed to have six reactors each with a capacity of 1,000 MW and the first two reactors will become operational in 2013 and 2014.
The NDRC said in November that in order to boost domestic demand, construction of a series of large energy projects was due to start this year.
They include three nuclear power plants with a total of 101,000-MW reactors, including the plants in Fujian and Guangdong and another one in Zhejiang.
China's nuclear sector will continue to see accelerated development in the future, and is not affected by the ongoing financial crisis, Yu Jianfeng, vice-general manager of China National Nuclear Corp, said in November.
"With the development of such rapid pace, nuclear power capacity will exceed 60 GW with no doubt," said Fu Manchang, president of State Nuclear Power Automation System Co.
Industry insiders said China also plans to increase the capacity of wind power in the previous medium- and long-term plan, as the sector experienced 100 percent growth in the past three years.
According to the earlier plan, wind power capacity would reach 30 GW by 2020.
The government has aimed to cut energy use per unit of GDP by 20 percent in the five years through 2010 while reducing emissions of pollutants, but so far it has failed to meet the set targets.