Japan crisis won't hamper nuclear development, says China

"China will not change its policy in developing the nuclear power industry," Sun Qin, president of China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said during a visit to China's first domestically developed nuclear facility at Qinshan nuclear power plant in Haiyan county in Zhejiang province.

China at present has 13 reactors and has approved construction of 10 more mega nuclear reactors in addition to 25 currently being built to step up its nuclear power generation capacity to 86 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 with a massive investment of USD 121.5 billion.

Sun said China's nuclear centres will now be subject to stricter standards. "It is necessary for China to build inland nuclear stations, but they should all be subject to stricter standards for measuring radiation," the official China Daily quoted him as saying today.

The China Nuclear Energy Association said in July last year that China plans to build more than 60 reactors by 2020, with each requiring 400 tons of uranium to start operating. Nuclear power will account for five per cent of the 15 per cent power generation from renewable sources by 2020, Xiao Xinjian, a researcher at China's Energy Research Institute said.

Pan Ziqiang, director of the Science and Technology Commission at CNNC said "China should not change its development plan in the nuclear power sector". On March 16, Chinese Cabinet decided to halt new approvals of nuclear projects following the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

After this, China's National Nuclear Safety Administration ordered existing facilities to begin safety checks. The checks included location adaptability to external incidents such as floods, earthquakes or any extreme natural disasters as well as the reliability of the emergency power supply, which are all possible factors that might cause an event similar to that in Japan.

Despite this, the country is likely to start building a nuclear power plant next month in Shandong province, using fourth-generation technology, according to Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Co, the project's developer, the Daily reported. Pan said that nuclear power is a major and reliable source for China to meet its energy demands, and one which is environment friendly.

"China has a sound record in nuclear safety. We have never had a nuclear incident beyond level two," Pan said. Japan's crisis has also raised a debate over the safety of second-generation nuclear technology.

China currently uses the same second-generation nuclear technology as that employed in Japan. The use of third-generation technology, such as Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor and Areva's EPR reactor, is gaining ground commercially.

Six of the 28 reactors being built by China will use third-generation technology.

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