Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan called for innovation in nuclear technologies on Tuesday at the launch of the State Nuclear Power Technology Co. in Beijing.
The new company is authorized by the State Council, or cabinet, to sign contracts for third-generation nuclear power technologies transfer from other countries.
Zeng said the company should speed up the re-innovation of foreign nuclear power technologies to ensure China's energy supply.
China is seeking alternatives to coal and oil as its double-digit economic growth faces energy bottlenecks.
Zeng noted the company should strive to invent key nuclear technologies and build advanced pressurized water reactors using its own patents and brands as soon as possible.
Nuclear energy will play a key role in helping China build a resources saving and environment friendly society, the vice premier said.
The State Nuclear Power Technology Co. is co-funded by the State Council and four large state-owned enterprises, including the China National Nuclear Corporation, with registered capital of four billion yuan (US$519.5 million).
Wang Binghua, 53, has been appointed chairman of the company. He had previously served as the general manager of the state-owned China Power Investment Corporation and deputy general manager of the China National Nuclear Corporation.
The company signed a framework contract on February 28 to buy four third-generation pressurized water reactors from the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co.
Talks on the final agreement are still underway, and the official contract could be signed next month, according to Wang.
He said two pressurized water reactors will be installed in Sanmen City, east China's Zhejiang Province, and the other two in Haiyang City, east China's Shandong Province. The two sites have finished preliminary preparations for the 'AP1000' project.
Of the 11 nuclear power reactors operating in China, three use domestic technologies, two use Russian technologies, four use French technologies, and two are Canadian designed. All the reactors employ second-generation nuclear power technologies.
The third generation program developed by Westinghouse is the only one that has received final approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
China's present installed capacity of nuclear power plants is less than nine million kilowatts, about one percent of all its power generating capacity. It will be increased to 40 million kilowatts by 2020.
(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2007)