China expanding nuclear to more than 70 GW by 2020

CHENGDU, CHINA - China is considering raising its target on nuclear power installation capacity from 40 gigawatts (GW) specified in its current development plan for nuclear power to more than 70 GW by 2020, said a senior officer of the National Energy Administration (NEA) in Chengdu recently.

"The snowstorm disaster in the beginning of this year exposed the risks of long-distance power transmission and coal transportation, and the increasing efforts to reduce global carbon-dioxide emissions has encouraged the Chinese government to adjust its energy strategy," said the officer from the NEA. This is not the first time that a Chinese energy officer has discussed an increase in China's nuclear power capacity.

In March 2008, Director of the NEA, Guobao Zhang, clearly stated at the China Development Summit Forum that "China is planning to adjust the Middle and Long-term Development Plan for Nuclear Power, and is trying to expand the proportion of nuclear power of the total installed capacity to more than 5% by 2020." Later in the month, Zhang predicted that the installed capacity of nuclear power in China would reach 60 GW in 2020.

In 2006, China approved the Middle and Long-term Development Plan for Nuclear Power (2005-2020), which specified that the installed capacity of nuclear power would reach 4% of total installed capacity in 2020, namely 40 GW.

In view of the current economic and power development in China, the level of 5% of total installed capacity would represent at least 70 GW of nuclear power in 2020, said Xueqing Huang, Vice President of the Design Institute of Nuclear Power Institute of China.

Currently, China has a total installed nuclear power capacity of about 9 GW, accounting for 1.3% of the total installed power capacity, while the installed capacity of thermal power, mainly from coal-fired plants, accounts for 76% of the total installed capacity and about 84% of total power output.

The development of nuclear power will allow China to reduce risk in the power supply, the NEA repeatedly emphasized. China currently has a total of 12.1 GW of nuclear power units under construction. Together with projects proposed to start this year and next year, the total installed capacity of nuclear power will reach more than 20 GW.


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