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Nuclear power program to be resumed

2015-01-15 10:10 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Govt to approve new plants in bid to meet emissions targets

The State Council, China's c-abinet, is expected to soon grant approvals to the construction of three nuclear power stations, media reports said Wednesday.

This is after a near four-year suspension of new project approval due to safety concerns prompted by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power station accident in Japan.

The three projects are located in Northeast China's Liao-ning Province as well as East China's Shandong and Fujian provinces, along the country's eastern coast. The projects will have an installed capacity of 7 million kilowatts in total, financial news website eeo.com.cn reported Wednesday, quoting an unidentified source.

Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China's nuclear industry, and the timing of the resumption of the project approvals may be related to the anniversary, said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

Following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011, then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced to halt approval of new nuclear power projects and ordered comprehensive safety inspections at the country's nuclear power stations - in operation and under construction - over safety concerns raised by the accident in Japan.

After a slowdown caused by the safety checks in recent years, the development of the industry is expected to pick up pace from this year, as the country feels the pressure to meet energy saving and emission reduction targets, Lin said.

According to a new energy strategy released by the State Council on November 19, 2014, the country has set limits for its energy consumption and pledged to raise the share of non-fossil fuels.

By 2020, the installed capacity of China's nuclear power stations in operation is expected to reach 58 million kilowatts and approval for new projects on the eastern coast should resume at an appropriate time, the strategy said.

To meet the target, around 50 nuclear power stations would be required to be in operation by 2020 compared with the current around 40, including both those under construction and operational stations. And considering that it takes around six years - from approval to operation - to build a nuclear power station, the industry is set to register rapid growth in 2015, Xiamen University's Lin noted.

Nuclear power capacity accounted for only 2.59 percent of China's electrical power output in the third quarter of 2014, which means there is great potential for the development of nuclear power, according to a report in the Beijing-based Securities Daily Wednesday.

But eeo.com.cn reported that so far there are still no indications of approval of inland nuclear power plants.

An inland nuclear power plant can raise bigger safety concerns as it is located closer to the populous areas, but the bias is not justified given the strict technical standards for China's inland nuclear power plants and previous safety records, said Zhou Dadi, vice chairman of the China Energy Research Society.

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