Nuclear power to push national growth
With a decision to move forward to build additional nuclear power plants, nuclear power will take on a larger proportion in China's power supply system.
This comes under a backdrop of the country attaching great importance to nuclear safety and participating in all international mechanisms for the prevention of nuclear proliferation. Officials have placed equal importance in co-operation with other countries in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
By 2020, China's nuclear power plants will have an installed capacity of 36 million kilowatts, or 4 per cent of the total installed capacity of the nation's generators, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority Zhang Huazhu said Wednesday at a news conference in Beijing.
Currently, the proportion stands at 1.7 per cent. And last year nuclear power plants generated 43.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, of which 41.5 billion was connected to the power grid, said Zhang, also vice-minister of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.
The amount of nuclear power last year accounted for nearly 2.3 per cent of the total power generated in China. In East China's Zhejiang and South China's Guangdong provinces, the proportion was as high as 13 per cent.
In comparison, the world average proportion of nuclear power is about 16 per cent.
China built its first nuclear power plant, the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, in East China's Zhejiang Province in 1991.
By now, there are five plants in operation, including nine nuclear power units. The capacity is 7.01 million kilowatts.
The capacity will grow to 9.13 million kilowatt next year with the completion of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in East China's Jiangsu Province, Zhang said.
Stressing China's particular attention to nuclear safety, Zhang said the government has "established a safety supervision and management system and nuclear safety standards in line with international practices.''
Zhang pledged that with the promising prospect for the uses of nuclear energy, China is willing to co-operate with other countries and international organizations in this field based on equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful use.
He noted that isotopes and radio logical technologies are widely applied in China in health, agriculture, environmental protection and public security sectors.
There were more than 300 institutions engaged in nuclear technology for civilian applications across the country by the end of last year, 2003, with a general output of 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion), he said.
He predicted that the output from the industry of isotope and radiation technologies will exceed 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) in 2010.
Bao Yunqiao, vice-president of the China Energy Research Society, said nuclear power should play an important role in the country's power supply system.
He said that should apply especially in southeastern coastal regions-- the country's most developed areas.
Although a capacity of 36 million kilowatts in 2020 is an ambitious target for China, it is still too small an amount, Bao said.
He suggests that the production of nuclear power units in China be large-scale.
"Experience from other countries shows that to produce six units a year is the most economical,'' he said. If so, the target of 36 million kilowatts will be easily reached.
China has the ability to do so and the government should be decisive and input more into developing nuclear power, he said, adding that relevant departments should work as one team in developing nuclear power.
"The time for us is very limited and we must take action quickly,'' he said.