China will carry out early-stage work on inland nuclear power plants and approve construction of some new coastal nuclear projects, according to a draft outline of the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).
Under the draft, which was submitted to the National People’s Congress for examination on March 5, construction of a reprocessing facility for used nuclear fuel will be speeded up.
Liu Wei, general manager of China Nuclear Power Engineering Co, said, “the problem of inland nuclear power plants is not about technology or safety features, it is more an issue of public acceptance.”
He said it is important to educate more people to make them understand that nuclear power is a safe source of energy, as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan changed public attitudes toward nuclear energy.
Nur Bekri, head of the National Energy Administration, said, “China needs to develop its nuclear industry, especially in coastal areas, but there is no clear time frame for inland nuclear power projects.”
He was commenting during the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.
China suspended its nuclear program after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, but resumed construction of coastal nuclear plants a year later. Nuclear power construction has remained on a fast track since then.
But the country suspended all inland nuclear projects until last year, citing higher risks in inland regions.
Under the draft plan, China－the world’s largest energy consumer－will start building a pilot project for the Shandong Rongcheng nuclear power project, which uses the CAP1400 nuclear reactor, the country’s indigenous nuclear technology. The Sanmen and Haiyang nuclear power plants, in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces respectively, will also be completed within the next five years.
The country has embarked on a huge nuclear program in recent years as it seeks to replace coal-fired power stations to combat air pollution.