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A new Chinese nuclear power plant broke ground for construction at the northeastern coast of Fujian Province on Monday.

It is ranked first in China in terms of the degrees for independently developing and manufacturing the generating units to be used at the power plant.

While meeting with the project contractors for the start of construction on the Ningde nuclear power station today, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan called for efforts to accelerate the optimizing of energy structure and to promote independent development of nuclear power.

He said nuclear power was a sort of clean, high-efficient, safe and reliable energy. He emphasized pushing forward construction of nuclear plants as an important measure to speed up the change of economic growth patterns and the restructuring of energy and the national economy at large.

Zeng said endeavors should be exerted to strengthen the absorption of imported nuclear power technologies and achieve independent design, manufacturing and operating of pressurized water reactors each with an installed capacity of at least one million kilowatts.

Workers were busy cementing the hole for housing one of the reactors for the new power plant on an unpopulated island off the Fuding coast. The municipality falls under the jurisdiction of Ningde, another Fujian city.

For the first-phase development, the power plant will be equipped with four one-million-kw generating units. The investment will total 50 billion yuan (about 6.85 billion U.S. dollars), said Qian Zhimin, chairman of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, one of the plant's investors.

The country's independently-developed nuclear technology, known as CPR1000, will be used at the plant, Qian said. The localization rate with the first two generating units will be 75 percent, but will rise to 85 percent with the last two.

"The cost for power generation at Ningde nuclear power plant will be lower because of the wide use of domestically- manufactured equipment," Qian said. "I believe the foreseeable economic prospects will be very good, and each kilowatt hour of electricity will charge 0.37 yuan, much lower than the present rate for each kilowatt hour of electricity."

The first generating unit with the Ningde nuclear power plant will be finished and commissioned in 2012. The new plant will be able to generate 30 billion kw/hours of electricity annually when all four units are operational by 2015.

The project is being invested jointly by Guangdong Nuclear Power Investment Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. and Fujian Coal Industry (Group) Co.,Ltd.

China has 11 nuclear plants with a combined installed capacity of 9.08 million kw. Three use domestic technology, two are based on Russian technology, four use French technology and two are Canadian-designed. All use second generation nuclear technologies.

China generated 62.6 billion kilowatt hours of nuclear power in 2007, up 14.1 percent year-on-year, according to the China Electricity Council.

The country has worked out a plan for vigorously developing nuclear power during the 11th five-year-plan (2006-2010) and beyond.

In accordance with the government plan, the country will have an installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kw by 2020, accounting for four percent of the country's total.

Nuclear plants provide 2.3 percent of China's power and the proportion is set to rise to 16 percent by 2030.

(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2008)

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