China’s state council has approved the construction of five nuclear power units, with total installed capacity of 4.9 GWe, roughly 10% of the country’s total, Reuters reported on 15 April citing “sources familiar with the matter”. China needs to accelerate nuclear development to achieve its pledge to become “carbon neutral” by 2060. “Nuclear power is a ‘have to do’ choice if China aims to achieve the targets of bringing carbon emission by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060,” an official from the Nuclear Safety Bureau said.

The five nuclear projects will be developed by China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), one of the sources said. Officials, including those from the National Energy Administration and National Nuclear Safety Bureau, attended the state council meeting at which the development of the nuclear industry in the country was discussed, according to four sources who “asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the press”.

The five reactors approved include four regular nuclear units – number 7 and number 8 at Tianwan nuclear power plant in eastern Jiangsu province, and number 3 and number 4 in Xudabao in northeastern Liaoning province. All four will use Russian-made VVER-1200 technology and have individual capacity of 1,200 MWe, two of the sources said. The fifth reactor is a small, 125MWe modular reactor (SMR) demonstration project at Changjiang NPP in Hainan province. For this, CNNC will use its domestically designed ACP100 technology.

Construction of three of the five units, the SMR and one each from Tianwan and Xudabao, is expected to start later this year and is scheduled for completion in 2026, one official said. “They are moving ahead as earlier scheduled,” the official said, adding that means China has re-established its normal pace in advancing new projects.