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9 nuclear plants in pipeline
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At least nine nuclear power plants (NPP) will be built over the next two years, the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) said in a news release on Tuesday.

With the four NPP projects currently under construction, the scale of building nuclear power plants in China is "large and unprecedented," CAEA official Song Gongbao said in response to the publication of the release.

"It shows China's focus is clearly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving sustainable development," he said.

The new plants will help achieve the country's goal of having 40 million kilowatts of installed nuclear capacity by 2020, which will account for 4 percent of the total generating capacity, he said.

China's existing 11 nuclear plants have a combined installed capacity of 9.1 million kilowatts, or about 1.3 percent of the total, the CAEA release said.

In comparison, coal-based power, a major source of carbon dioxide emissions, contributes about 84 percent of the supply, the Xinhua News Agency reported last week.

"China needs to add 30 million to 50 million kilowatts of installed capacity over the next 15 years, and this means the speed of construction of nuclear plants has to be five times that of the past two decades," Song said.

He did not say how much the plants would cost, but said the investment will be worthwhile as they will "contribute to China's sustainable development".

Of the nine new plants, six will use the AP1000 technologies imported from American firm Westinghouse, the CAEA release said.

AP1000 is third-generation technology and more efficient and safer than its predecessors, Song said.

The three other projects and the four currently under construction use homegrown second-generation technologies, he said.

The construction of the six plants in coastal provinces - two in Guangdong, two in Zhejiang, and one each in Fujian and Shandong - will begin at the end of this year or early next year, the CAEA said.

However, the exact locations and construction start dates for the three projects in Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces have yet to be decided, the release said.

Song said the inland plants are needed to provide a buffer against bad weather conditions such as this year's snowstorms that caused havoc with power supplies.

"Inland provinces rely on the long-distance transmission of electricity from coastal areas and local coal-fired power plants, so when the blizzard struck, the electricity supply network and coal transportation were both paralyzed.

"The new nuclear plants will help solve that problem," he said.

(China Daily November 12, 2008)

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