Beijing: China plans to build 110 nuclear power plants by 2030 with an investment of over $78 billion overtaking the US which has 100 such plants amid criticism that Beijing is yet to implement enough measures to develop safety controls in existing projects.
China will build six to eight nuclear power plants annually for the next five years and operate 110 plants by 2030 to meet the urgent need for clean energy, Beijing-based China Times quoted plan analysts as saying.
China will invest 500 billion yuan ($78.8 billion) on domestically developed nuclear power plants, the report said.
According to the China Times, the country plans to increase its electricity generation capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, three times the 2014 level.
More than 110 nuclear power plants will be put into operation by the end of 2030, exceeding the number of plants in the US.
China currently has 23 nuclear power generating units in operation and 27 under construction, about one-third of the world's unfinished nuclear units.
The construction resumed after the Chinese government which put the brakes on nuclear power plant approvals after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 permitted their construction after a safety review.
The urgent need for clean energy to meet increasing power demand and reduce carbon dioxide emissions has led to the renewed development of nuclear projects, a nuclear safety expert at an energy cooperation firm in Beijing told Global Times.
He Zuoxiu, a theoretical physicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the same daily that China has yet to implement enough measures to develop safety control technology and facilities for nuclear power plants.
He said four countries - the US, Japan, France and the former Soviet Union - which have more than 50 nuclear power plants, suffered from nuclear accidents.
He said the government should attach greater importance to other clean energy resources such as wind and hydroelectric power, which are abundant in China, instead of building too many nuclear power plants.
Zhou Dadi, vice director of the China Energy Research Society said that China generates only about 2 per cent of its total electricity from nuclear power plants, while the average global proportion is 14 per cent, adding that China is in a great position to develop its nuclear projects.
He added that using nuclear power could also make China less dependent on imported energy such as gas and oil though safety concerns should not stunt the industry.
"Due to China's mature nuclear technology and strict safety controls, serious accidents are unlikely to happen," Zhou said.
China is also aggressively marketing its new 1100 MW nuclear technology abroad. Pakistan and Argentina have already opted for it.