BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- China will greatly speed up its nuclear power construction in the next 15 years to achieve a total nuclear power capacity of 36 million kilowatts by 2020, almost four times the current one, a senior Chinese atomic energy official said here Wednesday.
Zhang Huazhu, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority, said at a press conference that two or three nuclear power plants at the million-kw level will be established per year until 2020 in order to achieve the goal.
"All new nuclear power projects will be constructed in the principle of putting security and quality first," Zhang said.
After 20 years of practice in the nuclear power filed, China has developed its own management system and cultivated a group of talented professionals with high ability to design and build equipment independently, he said.
"All this experience and technological progress has built a good basis for future faster development of China's nuclear power industry," Zhang said.
Although the concrete nuclear power development program is being discussed, the Chinese government has decided to make nuclear power a major part of its power industry.
The nuclear power plants under construction or on the drawing table are mainly distributed in relatively developed coastal provinces, such as Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, where energy is in great demand, Zhang said.
Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, the first of its kind in China, started operation in Zhejiang in 1991. Currently China has nine generating units in operation, with a total installed capacity of 7.01 million kw. The total capacity is expected to reach 9.13 million kw by 2005 when Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant goes into operation in Jiangsu.
As an important shift in the country's energy development strategy, China is taking steps to increase the proportion of nuclear power in its overall energy supply and make it an important element of energy development in the future, said Zhang.
The Chinese government has endorsed the expansion of two nuclear power plants, one in Shanmen of Zhejiang and the other in Ling'ao of Guangdong. Another two nuclear power projects are beingapproved.
According to statistics, nuclear plants, which makes up 1.7 percent of the total installed capacity of power-generating facilities in China, produced 43.8 billion kwh of electricity lastyear, accounting for 2.29 percent of the country's total power output.
In coastal Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, nuclear electricity exceeded 13 percent of their respective total power output and became an important pillar in the electricity mix.
China's total nuclear power installed capacity is expected to reach 36 million kilowatts by 2020, which requires the construction of 27 million-kw-level nuclear power plants in the next 15 years, according to researchers.
The new nuclear power plants will sharply reduce the use of 120million tons of raw coal, which will ease the pressure on fuel transportation and environmental protection.