China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the sole state-owned nuclear energy conglomerate, wants to build a new nuclear power plant in East China's Zhejiang Province.
CNNC President Li Dingfan said the company is asking the central government to allow it to build a 2 million kilowatts nuclear power plant in Sanmen, Zhejiang, near the Qinshan nuclear power plant, China's first self-designed nuclear plant.
Li, who attended the 10-year anniversary of the Qinshan plant's operations last weekend, said the US$3 billion plan hinges on the government's approval.
"Nuclear power is clean, safe and efficient. It is especially useful in areas like Sanmen, which is in need of electricity but lacks extensive power grids, Li said.
Yu Peigen, general manager of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Company, said the success of the Qinshan plant in the last decade proves that nuclear power is of great economic and social benefit.
By the end of last month, the Qinshan plant had generated 16.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, posting a turnover of 4.9 billion yuan (US$591.7 million).
No pollution or leaked radiation has been found over the last 10 years, local environment supervision institutions claimed.
Qinshan plant, with a total installed capacity of 300,000 kilowatts, is now one of two nuclear power plants in operation in the country. The other, with a capacity of 900,000 kilowatts, is in Daya Bay in South China's Guangdong Province.
Besides another four 6.6-million-kilowatt plants under construction now, the central government has indicated it will build more nuclear power plants in the next five years, though the exact number has not yet been decided.
Coastal provinces including Zhejiang, Shandong and Guangdong are vying for a plant.
Sun Guangdi, a senior CNNC official, said the proposed reform of the power industry could weigh down the profitability of nuclear power plants because of the high expense.
Yu called on the government to grant favorable policies to nuclear power plants to support the fledgling industry.
"A child needs a hand to walk before he can run," Yu said.
Nuclear power represents 1 per cent of the country's total power output, much lower than the 17 per cent average for nuclear power as opposed to conventional power in advanced countries.
Four nuclear power projects, with a total installed capacity of 6.6 million kilowatts, are now under construction in China, including the second-phase construction of the Qinshan nuclear plant.
CNNC officials said the US$1.8-billion second phase of Qinshan, with a capacity of 600,000 kilowatts, could begin commercial operation in June.
The third phase, with a combined capacity of 1.4 million kilowatts, is expected to generate electricity by 2003.
(China Daily December 17, 2001)