The nuclear power sector is set to expand in the next few years as the nation tries to reach its target of 40,000 MW of capacity by 2020.
Work began on Qinshan, the nation's first nuclear power plant, in 1985. With a 300-MW reactor, the plant went into commercial operation in 1991.
China now has 11 nuclear reactors in operation. It's become the third-most important energy source in the country, according to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
But nuclear power accounts for less than 2 percent of the nation's power industry. Worldwide, nuclear power accounts for 16-17 percent of the total electricity industry. In countries like France, however, nuclear power accounts for around 80 percent of the industry.
China plans to increase nuclear power capacity to 40,000 MW by 2020, which would take the sector's share of the total industry to 4 percent.
All existing nuclear plants are located in the coastal provinces, but many inland regions are also planning stations.
China is developing a third-generation of nuclear technology. The State Nuclear Power Technology Corp was set up in May to develop foreign third-generation technologies.
The company has registered capital of 4 billion yuan. The central government will fund 60 percent, with the remainder held by four large State-owned companies.
The existing 11 reactors use first- and second-generation technologies from Russia, France and Canada. This year, an agreement was reached to build six third-generation reactors.
China National Nuclear Corp and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp are the nation's two major nuclear companies. More are entering the field.
China Huaneng Group, the nation's largest power firm, is building its first nuclear plant in Shandong Province. The Shidaowan plant will have an installed capacity of 200 MW and will use high temperature gas-cooled reactors.
(China Daily December 20, 2007)