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China likely to more than triple nuclear power capacity by 2030 - official

* China total nuclear capacity seen at 120-150 GW by 2030

* China aiming for 58 GW by 2020, but construction slowing

* China’s CNNC, SPIC sign deals with Rosatom, Westinghouse

SHANGHAI, Nov 8 (Reuters) - China’s total nuclear capacity is expected to reach 120-150 gigawatts (GW) in total by 2030, a senior industry official said on Thursday, more than triple the current rate but still lower than previous forecasts after a slowdown in new approvals.

The prediction was made by Yu Jianfeng, chairman of the government-run China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), during an event at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

Yu said CNNC was still planning to spend $12 billion on overseas procurement over the next five years and he urged global partners to participate in the future development of China’s nuclear industry.

“China is expected to become the world’s largest nuclear power nation, and the development of the China National Nuclear Corporation will be more open and international,” he said.

As China embarked on massive economic expansion around three decades ago, nuclear was seen as a crucial part of efforts to reduce reliance on use of polluting, climate-warming fossil fuels. The world’s second-biggest economy launched an ambitious reactor building programme using technology from France, the United States, Russia and Canada.

But though some predicted capacity could reach at least 200 GW by 2030, Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 forced policymakers to rethink. Repeated delays to key projects have also slowed the pace of construction.

After deciding to focus on bigger and safer “third generation” reactors like the U.S. AP1000 and Europe’s EPR, China vowed to raise total installed nuclear generation capacity to 58 GW by the end of 2020, and put another 30 GW under construction.

The total now stands at 39 GW but the government has not approved any new conventional nuclear projects in three years. It is now expected to fall short of its 2020 targets.

Still, a raft of nuclear industry deals were signed by Chinese firms and their overseas partners over the last few days.

CNNC signed an equipment and service agreement with Russia’s Rosatom worth more than $500 million. The two firms also confirmed plans to build another two third-generation Russia-designed VVER reactor units at China’s Tianwan nuclear project on the eastern coast.

On Tuesday, the State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) signed a total of 17 agreements with several overseas suppliers, including service contracts with the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Corp, which designed the AP1000.

According to a recent study by the Energy Research Institute, a government-backed think tank, China must raise nuclear capacity to 554 GW by 2050 if it is to meet its commitments to cut carbon emissions and limit temperature rises.

Reporting by David Stanway Editing by Kenneth Maxwell