The government is likely to give the green light to some nuclear projects this year, with the Hongyan River nuclear plant likely being the first to get approval, according to officials.
Several other new nuclear projects are also in the works, the official said, adding that the moves would help ensure China’s energy security and economic growth.
Guo Chengzhan, deputy director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, China’s nuclear regulator, told China Daily that “some new nuclear projects will start construction this year”, defying expectations that the onset of winter and other technical issues would hold up construction this year.
Tang Bo, another official at the administration, said that the regulatory body has already drawn up a draft list of new projects for final approval and is also working on the resumption of the nuclear energy development plan.
“Our job is to complete the technical preparation of the nuclear sites before the government’s final approval,” he said.
The nuclear safety administration is working on the environmental impact assessment and safety inspection of three nuclear projects, including units 5 and 6 of the Hongyan River nuclear project in Liaoning province, the Shidao Bay nuclear demonstration project in Shandong province and units 5 and 6 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian province.
However, which of these projects will be the first to get the nod remains uncertain.
Pan Ziqiang, an academician and chairman of the Committee of Science and Technology of China National Nuclear Corp, said the Hongyan River nuclear plant is the most likely candidate for first approval.
He said that all the three projects are waiting for the green light from the State Council, the final step to start construction. The Hongyan River nuclear plant has been faster than the other two in completing the assessment and safety checks from the nuclear safety administration.
“No matter which project gets approval first, it will be a big step forward for China to revive the industry after Japan’s nuclear catastrophe,” he told China Daily.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, China suspended approval of nuclear plants construction to revise its safety standards.
But the country is now pushing ahead to restart and embark on a program of new nuclear plants to change its energy mix amid mounting pressure from air pollution.
Foreign nuclear power companies are teaming up with Chinese nuclear giants and deploying their core nuclear technologies in the country’s nuclear plants to tap into what will be the world’s fastest-growing nuclear market, sources said
Candu Energy Inc, a subsidiary of Canadian SNC-Lavalin Group, said on Thursday that its advanced fuel Candu reactor based on pressurized heavy water technology has passed the review by the Chinese nuclear expert panel, signaling it has gained access to commercialize its nuclear technology.
China currently operates two Candu reactors at the Qinshan nuclear plant in Zhejiang province, and both are expected to be modified to use recycled uranium fuel in 2015.