China to boost nuclear power capacity


China will make nuclear energy the foundation of its power-generation system in the next 10 to 20 years, said a senior official on Tuesday.

The country will increase generation capacity by 2 billion kilowatts (kW) during that period, with as much as 300 million kW coming from nuclear power, said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the National Energy Administration's new-energy and renewable energy department, at the 21st Century Low-Carbon Chinese Development Summit held in Beijing on Tuesday.

China will make nuclear energy the foundation of its power-generation system
He said renewable energy will account for a greater proportion of the energy consumed during the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) period.

China now has 40 million kW of nuclear capacity, and an industry insider said it will have to add another 26 million kW each year to reach its goal. Achieving that will force the country to spend about 800 billion yuan ($125 billion) annually in the next 10 to 20 years.

The insider, who declined to provide his name, said China is developing third-generation nuclear technology that will help make nuclear plants safer and increase their generating capacity.

"If China puts more research and development into making equipment for nuclear generation, the high costs of nuclear plants will decrease to between 15,000 and 20,000 yuan a kW," he said. "That will make a great contribution to the industry."

China will not swerve from its goal of coming to rely more on nuclear power, said Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, on Nov 22.

According to Shanghai Securities News, Zhang Guobao, former head of the commission's National Energy Administration, said China is likely to resume building nuclear plants in March. Zhang said the country will become the largest market for nuclear power in the world. The statement marked the first time a Chinese high official has released a schedule for the construction of nuclear plants since the country suspended approval of such projects in response to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant brought on by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March.

With energy consumption increasing in China, the country cannot stop the development of nuclear power, said Zhang. He added that the country has meanwhile set a goal of obtaining 15 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2020.

The State Council announced on March 16 that it would suspend approvals for nuclear plant construction and ordered safety inspections at all plants.

On April 15, a national inspection group, composed of the National Energy Administration, National Nuclear Safety Administration and China Earthquake Administration, began checking the safety of nuclear plants under construction and in operation.

Shi said China's generation capacity will reach 1.05 billion kW by the end of the year.

He said the country's power supply will not be stable unless steps are taken to promote energy efficiency.

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