China to quadruple nuclear power

Posted: 19 May 2005

As China played host this week at the world's top nuclear conference - the International Conference on Nuclear Engineering (ICONE) - the government made clear that it has major plans to nearly quadruple its nuclear generating capacity by the year 2020.

"To meet the need of energy supply and environmental protection, nuclear power will play a more active role in China," said Rixin Kang of China National Nuclear Corporation and conference chair of ICONE 13. "Recently, 10 new nuclear power units have been approved by the Chinese government and this is just the beginning of China's ambitious nuclear power programme."

According to a report by the Environemnt News Service, China has become the world's second largest consumer of energy and is one of the fastest growing producers of nuclear electric power in the world. Eight new large reactors are currently under construction, which will almost double the country's existing nuclear generating capacity.

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group recently signed contracts to build the Lingao II project, the country's first 1,000 megawatt-level, domestic-built nuclear power plant, the state news agency Xinhua reported. It will be the third commercial nuclear power plant in South China's Guangdong Province, where China's first Daya Bay nuclear power plant began operation in 1991. It is due to be in operating in 2010.

Chinese companies will take a larger role in the construction of Lingao II than they have in past nuclear projects, according to Qian Zhimin, head of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.

'Safety first'

China now operates nine nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 7,000 megawatts, about 1.8 per cent of the country's total installed power generating capacity. The government is planning to boost nuclear power development to meet the country's demand for electricity, especially in the eastern provinces that are experiencing severe power shortages.

According to government plans, a total of 32 new 1,000 megawatt reactors are expected to be brought on line by 2020.

The first generating unit of the Lingao nuclear power plant began commercial operation in May 2002, with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. The second generating unit began operating in January 2003.

A new 6,000 megawatt nuclear complex is planned for construction at Yangjiang in Guangdong province, to begin commercial operation in 2010. A second generating facility also is planned for Daya Bay, site of China's first nuclear power plant.

Commenting on the safety problems in running nuclear installations, and handling its waste, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan emphasized the industry must be built on "safety first, quality first."

"This is the premise and the safeguard on which our entire nuclear electricity enterprise develops," Zeng said. "If it does not have this, development of the nuclear industry is just empty talk."

China is one of six countries involved in international efforts to produce electricity from nuclear fusion. Rather than producing electricity with today's technology of splitting atoms, the ITER reactor would fuse atoms at temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius. The project includes the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States, under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Source:Environment News Service

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