(Refiles to clarify expectations for blueprint in second
HONG KONG Oct 21 China's 2020 nuclear capacity
targets are likely to be scaled down after the country imposed a
moratorium on new project approvals following the Fukushima
disaster in Japan in March, industry officials said on Friday.
China was originally scheduled to release a revised
blueprint for its nuclear sector this year, with many predicting
a new 2020 target of 86 GW, up from the previous 40 GW.
Capacity at the end of 2010 stood at 10.9 GW, but projects
already under construction would have pushed the total up to 40
GW by as early as 2015, and China's bullish reactor builders
even suggested a target of 100-120 GW was within reach.
But Beijing promised to "adjust and improve" its plans for
the sector after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's
northeast coast and left the ageing Fukushima Daiichi reactor
complex on the brink of meltdown.
Li Yongjiang, vice president of the China Nuclear Energy
Association (CNEA), said on the sidelines of an industry
conference in Hong Kong that new projects were likely to be
resumed next year, but China had already lost a year of
"The 86-GW target was still a very tight target in the first
place," he said, adding that the suspension forced the delay of
around 10 GW of new capacity this year.
"If we start from next year, we'll only be able to build 60
to 70 GW so we will definitely have to reduce (the target)," he
In March, the government ordered a nationwide inspection of
existing plants and construction sites in order to allay public
disquiet about the safety of nuclear power.
Areas of concern included the safety of the many
"second-generation" reactors set to go into operation, the
shortage of qualified safety and operational personnel, and the
possible construction of nuclear projects in seismically
vulnerable provinces like Sichuan.
Officials have suggested that no new second-generation
reactors will be approved, leaving the way clear for
third-generation models designed by France's Areva
and U.S.-based Westinghouse, owned by Toshiba .
Chinese officials have stressed throughout the inspection
period that while the pace of development could be adjusted in
the wake of Fukushima, long-term capacity expansion plans would
"We should ensure the safety of nuclear energy before coming
up with new projects," said Zhao Chengkun, vice-chairman of the
"So although we're kind of slowing down right now, I'm sure
once we overcome all our challenges we'll be able to develop
Senior energy officials have expressed concern that the
current impasse will hurt China's long-term aim to become a
global leader in the nuclear sector.
The former head of China's National Energy Administration,
Zhang Guobao, said in August that new industry policies had to
be drawn up as soon as possible if the country was to avoid
falling behind countries like South Korea and Russia.
(Reporting by James Pomfret and Leonora Walet; Writing by David
Stanway; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)