China encouraging high-tech reactors

BEIJING, CHINA - China aims to encourage the construction and technological development of advanced nuclear reactors, and will also support further prospecting for domestic uranium resources, the country's state planning agency said.

The National Development and Reform Commission included the nuclear sector in a list of industries it aims to encourage in the coming years as part of its attempt to restructure its economy.

It said China would also promote advances in uranium isotope separation technology, the handling of spent fuel and the prevention and detection of radiation.

The Chinese nuclear sector is still awaiting details of a strategic review of the industry in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on March 11, which left the aging Fukushima reactor complex on the brink of meltdown.

China said on March 16 that it would "adjust and improve" its plans for the nuclear industry, and would halt further project approvals until it had finished inspecting existing reactors and construction sites.

Government and industry officials have so far stressed that China will not give up on its long-term commitment to developing nuclear power, but said that the pace of construction could be slowed down to allow the country to build the necessary manufacturing and regulatory capacity.

Before the Japanese nuclear crisis, many in the industry expected China to unveil a new 2020 capacity target of 80-90 gigawatts, but experts now anticipate a figure of about 75 gigawatts.

China's total installed nuclear capacity stood at just 10.8 gigawatts by the end of 2010.


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