Construction started on Friday of a 100-billion-yuan ($14.5 billion) nuclear power plant in Fujian province, which will help to improve the power supply situation across eastern China.
Located in Fuqing, a coastal city to the south of Fuzhou, the plant is designed to have six reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the project's builder and operator, said.
The first two reactors will become operational in 2013 and 2014, it said.
China's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said earlier this month that construction of a series of large energy projects was due to start this year.
These include three nuclear power plants with a total of 10 1,000-megawatts reactors. Apart from the Fuqing project, the other two are at Fangjiashan in Zhejiang and Yangjiang in Guangdong.
"These projects will effectively boost the domestic economy, as they require a large amount of investment," Yu Jianfeng, vice-general manager of CNNC, said.
"China's nuclear sector will continue to see accelerated development in the future, and is not affected by the financial crisis," he said.
China plans to increase its nuclear power capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2020, accounting for 4 percent of the nation's total power capacity.
The country currently has 11 nuclear reactors in operation, with a combined installed capacity of 9,080 megawatts. China has developed three nuclear power bases, Qinshan in Zhejiang, Daya Bay in Guangdong and Tianwan in Jiangsu.
Last year, the government set up the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp Ltd, which is mainly responsible for domestic development of nuclear power using advanced third generation technology from overseas.
The government has signed agreements with Westinghouse from the United States and Areva from France to build six nuclear reactors using third generation technology.
"With the use of more nuclear energy, a clean energy, China will further improve its energy structure," Zhang Guobao, NDRC vice-minister, said.
Construction of the 51.2-billion-yuan Ningde nuclear power plant began in Fujian in February.
(China Daily November 22, 2008)