China to expand use of nuclear power

China 's reliance on nuclear energy is bound to grow, with new atomic power plants likely even in inland areas, industry experts said Tuesday, stressing Beijing 's keenness to develop competitive technologies of its own. China has embarked on an aggressive expansion of nuclear power, announcing plans to add 40 new nuclear generators by 2020, raising the share of electricity generated by atomic power to 6 percent of the total from the current 2 percent. Coal is used to generate two-thirds of China 's electricity.

So far, most of the nuclear facilities planned are expansions of existing facilities or new projects in eastern and southern coastal areas. But northern and inland provinces are also keen to develop nuclear power, said Shen Wenquan, deputy chief of the science and technology committee of China National Nuclear Power Corp., told a conference in Shanghai .

"Nuclear power development is a must for China , especially in coastal areas," Shen said. "In the hinterland, Sichuan has also proposed a project and we have rendered our full support to that," he added. "I think there will be a necessary transition of plants from the coasts to the inland areas of China ."

Possible projects have been announced for Fujian , in the southeast, and Shandong , to the north of Shanghai . In Liaoning , to the northeast, planners expect to build up to six nuclear generators, Shen said. Work on an extension of the Qinshan nuclear power plant, near Shanghai, is due to begin next month, while construction of a new project at its Ling'ao nuclear plant, in southern China's Guangdong province, is scheduled to start by the end of this year, he said.

The country's newest nuclear power plant, Tianwan station north of Shanghai, started generating electricity in October and is due to begin commercial operations by the end of this year, with an eventual capacity of 60-70 billion kilowatt hours a year. Meanwhile, the government has made development of nuclear power technologies, including nuclear fusion, a key strategic priority, said experts speaking at the conference, which focused on European and Chinese energy cooperation, reports the AP.


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