China 2020 nuclear capacity to double from earlier plan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s nuclear power generating capacity will grow to at least 70 to 80 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, an energy official was quoted as saying on Monday by the Xinhua News Agency, twice the level in earlier plans.

Chinese workers leave the nuclear power plant in Qinshan, China's Zhejiang province in this June 10, 2005 file picture. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause/Files

China previously said it would have 40 GW of installed nuclear capacity and 18 GW under construction by 2020, but government and industry officials have repeatedly urged a higher target to speed up clean energy sources and reduce the country’s reliance on coal.

“China is adjusting its mid- and long-term nuclear plan and judging by current work preparations, nuclear capacity by a conservative standard will reach 70-80 GW by 2020,” Huang Li, deputy head of the National Energy Administration’s energy saving and equipment department, was quoted as saying.

“The old target was perhaps far from enough to meet China’s promise to the international community to cut energy use and emission and protect the environment.”

China set a voluntary domestic goal to cut the amount of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, produced for every unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared to levels in 2005.

China has about 9 GW of nuclear power capacity and a record number of new projects have been approved since early last year.

She said the government is drafting a plan to increase hydropower capacity to 270 GW by 2020. The goal would be 37 percent higher than the current 197 GW.


Huang said China’s energy imports would continue to grow this year, with crude oil imports expected to reach 210 million tonnes and apparent crude demand rising to 400 million tonnes.

China, the world’s second-largest oil user and buyer, imported 204 million tonnes of crude in 2009.

Crude refining capacity will grow 20 million tonnes in 2010 and domestic supplies of refined fuels are likely to exceed demand, she said.

Net coal imports will again reach 100 million tonnes this year despite domestic output of raw coal is expected to rise to 3.15 billion tonnes.

Coal imports totaled 125.8 million tonnes in 2009.

She also said China’s power generation would grow 8.5 percent this year, with demand expected to rise 7 percent.