Beijing to resume vetting nuclear projects amid focus on safety

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am


Beijing may resume approving new nuclear power projects early next year but will curtail the industry's capacity expansion target and enhance safety requirements, state media reported.

The central government has completed safety inspections on existing plants as well as those under construction. A report being vetted by the State Council was expected to be made public soon, the China Securities Journal quoted people familiar with the matter as saying.

Beijing was also compiling updated safety regulations for the industry and aimed to issue a consultation paper by December, it said.

It will not change its target to expand the nation's installed nuclear generating capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2015 from last year's 10.82GW, but will pare the previous target of 86GW to not less than 60GW for 2020.

China Nuclear Energy Association vice secretary-general Xu Yuming said in May the nation should be able to expand installed nuclear power capacity to at least 70GW by 2020, despite Japan's earthquake-induced nuclear disaster that saw Beijing stall approval of new projects and order a safety review.

Operating plants and those under construction total 41GW in capacity while a further 16GW is involved in preparatory work. The plants' capacity accounted for just 1.1 per cent of the nation's total power generating capacity at the end of last year.

Beijing has set a target of cutting carbon intensity - the amount of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product - by up to 45 per cent by 2020, compared with 2005. China's nuclear power expansion programme - the largest in the world - is a key means to meet the target.

The Journal's report said the new safety requirements would be more stringent than those stipulated in an industry development blueprint unveiled by Beijing in 2007.

Dave Dai, Daiwa Securities' regional head of clean energy and utilities research, wrote in a research note the report was in line with his earlier expectation that new industry capacity targets and safety standards would be unveiled by year end, followed by an equipment order revival in the first half of next year.

Shanghai Electric is estimated to have 31 per cent of the third-generation equipment market, compared with Dongfang Electric's 25 per cent, according to a research note by Peter Yao Sheng of BOC International.

Third-generation reactors have better safety features than the previous generation equipment used.