China is likely to restart building nuclear power plants in inland areas within the next four years, Wang Yiren, vice-director of the state administration of science, technology and industry for national defence, and vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, told China National Radio on 13 February.
Wang said China has already decided where its inland nuclear reactors will be built. Three inland units already approved by the National Development and Reform Commission are Taohuajiang in Hunan province, Dafan in Hubei province, and Pengze in Jiangxi province.
China halted all its nuclear power construction projects after the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011, but restarted construction at several projects in eastern coastal areas in 2015. Although the resumption of inland projects has yet to be officially announced, at least 10 provinces have proposed sites, Wang said. Agreement on the construction of inland plants has been problematic because of potential problems related to earthquakes and lack of water resources. China has said these issues can be overcome if the siting process is carried out diligently.
China will prioritise development of a floating nuclear power platform in next five years to supply stable power to offshore projects and promote the exploitation of oil and gas resources and provide a safe and efficient power supply to remote islands in the South China Sea Wang told Science and Technology Daily, adding that Chinese authorities had already carried out research on relevant core technologies. He noted that the authorities had also worked on the standardisation of maritime NPPs, as a crucial part of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan running until 2020. He said diesel generators were currently the main power source for China's offshore operation, which were both inefficient and damaging to the environment. He noted that China is doing its own research on the project as well as seeking cooperation with Russia to hasten the process.
Another project which will be up and running in the coming few years is the high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) under construction in east Shandong Province. This generation IV nuclear power plant is expected to start generating power in 2018, Wang said. He noted that the HTGR is 25% more efficient that conventional reactors and less costly as modular construction can shorten the construction period.
"Almost 40% of nuclear power units under construction around the world are in China, he noted. “Moreover, China's existing nuclear power units are all in safe and stable operation. I believe through our efforts in the 13th Five-Year Period, we can become the world's leader in nuclear power."