Resumption Of China’s Nuclear Power Program Gets Closer

The Shanghai Securities News reports that new nuclear power safety regulations are about to be published, opening the door to a formal resumption of China’s reactor building program. A halt to construction and a review of the country’s ambitious nuclear reactor plans was ordered in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011.

The State Council signed off “in principle” on the safety proposals and the development plan for the country’s ambitious nuclear power program in June. New construction approvals are already being made, the paper says. In May, state media quoted an unnamed official saying that construction was already underway at 28 sites without giving details. That may have included corrective work deemed necessary by the safety review at plants that fell short of new earthquake and flood-control standards.

It is likely, however, that Beijing will proceed cautiously with expanding its capacity targets and may scale back its goal of having 70GW of power generation capacity by 2020. Current installed capacity is 12GW. (The World Nuclear Association has a list of existing and proposed plants here and a map of them here.)

This Bystander noted earlier this year that four or five new approvals for a further 5GW of capacity, costing 50 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) to build, would be given in short order, especially with the current desire to bring forward planned infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy. Some 20-30% of that sum could flow into order books this year.

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