Construction of the Ningde nuclear power station began in Fujian province Monday.
The 51.2-billion-yuan ($7.1 billion) plant is being built on three islands in the village of Beiwan in Fuding, 143 km north of Fuzhou.
A computer image of how the nuclear power station will look. Inset: Construction of the project started on February 18, 2008. [China Daily]
The first phase of the project comprises the construction of four nuclear reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW). The plant will use the same technology as the existing nuclear facility in Ling Ao, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday.
The first reactor is expected to be put into commercial use at the end of 2012. Once completed, the four reactors will generate 30 billion kWh of electricity a year, the NDRC said.
The China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Datang International Power Generation Co and Fujian Coal Industry Group are jointly funding the project.
Zhang Guobao, NDRC vice-minister, said the Ningde power station will significantly ease the strain on energy supply in the southeastern coastal area, as well as aid environmental protection efforts in the region.
It will also provide a huge boost to the economy of the province, he said.
In addition to the Ningde project, other nuclear power stations are planned for Fujian.
The country's largest nuclear power company, China National Nuclear Corp, has planned six 1,000-MW reactors for its Fuqing project in the province.
Also, China Guodian Corp, one of the nation's top five power producers, has launched its first nuclear project in Fujian. Guodian has set up a division to work on the project in the coastal city of Zhangzhou, a source from the company told China Daily.
However, the Guodian project is still at an early stage and has not yet received government approval, the source said.
As the world's second-largest energy consumer, China is looking more to nuclear power for a balanced energy mix. According to official figures, nuclear power is now the third largest power source in the country.
The 11 nuclear reactors currently in operation have a combined capacity of about 8,000 MW, and last year generated 62.86 billion kWh, up more than 14 percent on 2006, the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense said.
However, nuclear power still accounts for less than 2 percent of the country's total output. The NDRC said it wants to boost this figure to 4 percent by 2020.
Han Wenke from the Energy Research Institute under the NDRC, said: "China has seen a transition in its nuclear power industry from appropriate development to accelerated development."