The Chinese State Council has officially approved a plan to expand the country's installed capacity of nuclear generating units by 23 million kilowatts from 2005 to 2020, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Building the newly installed generating units with a combined capacity of 23 million kilowatts will cost total investment of 450 billion yuan (about 60 billion U.S. dollars).
According to the plan, submitted by NDRC, China will have an installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatts on the mainland by 2020. By then, its annual nuclear power generation capacity will reach 260-280 billion kilowatt-hours. The ratio of installed nuclear power capacity will be increased by half to account for 4 percent of China's total installed power generating capacity.
Currently, nuclear power capacity on the mainland stood at 16.97 million kilowatts, with 11 nuclear generating units in operation involving a combined capacity of 9.07 million kilowatts and another eight units under construction.
The country has selected 13 sites for the new nuclear plants, which are all located in coastal areas, including four in ZhejiangProvince, one in Jiangsu Province, three in Guangdong Province, two in Shandong Province and the other three in Liaoning and Fujian provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the plan.
The NDRC said the government is considering to build a nuclear plant respectively in Shandong, Fujian and Guangxi, where no nuclear power plants exist at present.
The country is also doing research work for building nuclear plants in inland regions, including Hubei, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces.
The plan said the country would design, build and operate the megawatt pressurized water reactors on its own while introducing and absorbing advanced foreign technologies.
China has reached an agreement in July with the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. to build four nuclear power plants in China and transfer core technologies for third-generation AP1000 reactors.
China's first third-generation pressurized water reactors adopting Westinghouse technology, built in Sanmen of east China's Zhejiang Province, will be put into commercial operation at the end of 2013.
China now has 11 nuclear power reactors in operation. Among them, three use domestic technologies, two are equipped with Russian technology and four with French technologies, and two are Canadian designed. All the 11 reactors employ second-generation nuclear power technologies.
China is the world's second-largest power consumer after the United States, with about 80 percent of the total generating capacity coming from coal-fired generators.
Experts said the development of the clean nuclear power would relieve the nation's reliance on coal.