China’s nuclear plans could resume by August

China’s plan to build more nuclear power stations to meet the nation’s growing energy needs could soon be back on track after a safety review is set to completed this summer, according to a mainland news report Friday.

The central government will assess the report and decide if safety improvements are needed, though Chinese experts believe Beijing will resume its nuclear-power ambitions, perhaps with some minor changes, the China Daily reported.

The report cited former industry regulator and Nuclear Power Technology Corp’s senior official Lin Chengge as saying the pace and scale of China’s building will be adjusted, but dramatic changes are unlikely.

New nuclear power projects may be approved, following suspension of the procedure on March 16 by the State Council after the Japanese tsunami, when the nuclear safety plan is issued, probably in August, a senior nuclear expert said.

“Operating plants and plants under construction will soon be inspected and reviewed by a group of experts,” Lin Chengge, a senior expert at the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp Ltd (SNPTC) and former deputy director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), told China Daily.

“I think China will use the most advanced third-generation technology in all future nuclear plants,” Lin said.

Four reactors under construction will use the third-generation AP 1000 model designed by US company Westinghouse Electric and introduced by the SNPTC in 2006.

“One of the units will have 70 percent of its components made in China,” Lin said.

“Only the most advanced technology can restore people’s confidence in nuclear safety.”

However, other experts are divided on the technology to be adopted by China’s future nuclear plants.

“The second-generation nuclear technology that China has been using has no safety problems,” said Pan Ziqiang, director of the Science and Technology Commission at the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), the largest nuclear plant operator in China, which uses second-generation technology.

China’s nuclear development will slow down during the next two to three years but in the medium and long term its nuclear strategy cannot be shaken, the Financial Times reported, quoting Feng Yi, deputy secretary-general of the China Nuclear Energy Association.

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