China lifts nuclear power ban in attempt to accelerate emissions reduction

The Chinese government has released a new nuclear strategy, confirming that it has lifted the moratorium on new nuclear plants imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and expects a “small number” of new coastal nuclear reactors to be approved before 2015.

The cabinet yesterday approved a package of new nuclear safety and inspection rules, which would ensure all new plants would be restricted to coastal areas and forced to comply with “third generation safety standards”.

The new standards were released alongside a government report showing that the strategy should allow plans for about 26 new reactors to move forward, increasing the country’s nuclear power capacity from around 12.5GW currently to just over 40GW.

“The inspection results show that nuclear security is guaranteed in China,” the report stated. “China implements the principle of ‘safety first’ in the whole process of nuclear power station planning.”

Experts said the plan represented a scaling back of pre-Fukushima proposals to deliver around 50GW of new nuclear capacity by 2015.

However, the new plans will still be regarded as a major boost to the global nuclear industry, and according to reports they will allow the Chinese government to increase its 2020 target for low carbon renewable and nuclear power from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the country’s electricity mix.

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