China will approve six to eight nuclear reactors this year, the China Nuclear Industry Association said in an annual report, as it races to meet ambitious capacity targets for 2020. The association’s general secretary Zhang Huazhu said another eight reactors would go into commercial operation this year, which would be the biggest annual rise in China’s history. China currently has 23 reactors in commercial operation with a total installed capacity of 21.4 gigawatts. Another 26 are under construction, with additional capacity of 28.5 GW. However, the suspension of new approvals following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011 means China is falling behind and experts say it might struggle to reach its target of 58 GW by 2020. The association said investment in the nuclear sector reached 56.9 billion yuan (HK$72 billion) in 2014, down 6.6 per cent from the previous year, and no new projects were approved. China promised following a post-Fukushima safety review to approve only the most advanced third-generation reactor designs, but those are mostly untested and the launch of the world’s first third-generation AP1000 designed by US-based Westinghouse in eastern Zhejiang province has been delayed until next year. Zhang said China was still striving to overcome the challenges related to the AP1000. Industry figures have suggested that China made a mistake by giving up on tried and tested designs. Li Ganjie, vice director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told a meeting delivering the new report that the nuclear sector needed to strike a better balance between the old and the new. China is also hoping to export its own reactor designs. Zhang from the nuclear association said negotiations with Argentina were continuing over the construction of a flagship Hualong 1 Chinese reactor in the country. China also reached nuclear co-operation agreements with Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia last year, he said.