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Thursday, December 4, 2008

China to kick off inland nuclear power projects: state media

Construction of an 8.7 billion dollar nuclear power plant in eastern China is set to begin soon, as part of ambitious plans for more atomic energy in the nation's interior, state press said Thursday.

Work on the 60 billion yuan (8.7 billion dollar) Pengze nuclear plant in eastern China's Jiangxi province will begin, with authorities also approving plants in nearby Hubei and Hunan provinces, the China Daily said.

"As China has taken measures to boost domestic demand, China may speed up the construction of nuclear projects in the next few years," the paper said, referring to Beijing's effort to overcome the global economic downturn.

Earlier, the official Jiangxi Daily said construction of the plant, which will consist of the AP-1000 nuclear reactor produced by the US-based Westinghouse, would start in October.

Westinghouse, which is owned by Japan's Toshiba, last year signed a multi-billion dollar deal for four nuclear reactors with two each in the coastal provinces of Shandong and Zhejiang.

Westinghouse's representative office in Beijing refused to comment on its reported participation in the Jiangxi plant when contacted by AFP Thursday.

The official Caijing Magazine previously reported the China National Nuclear Corp had decided in October to use the AP-1000 as a standard for inland nuclear power projects.

Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Henan, Gansu and Jilin provinces have all applied to the central government to build plants, the report said.

China has 11 nuclear reactors in operation, all of which are located in the nation's coastal regions.

According to a published nuclear power development plan, China will need up to 30 more atomic power plants if it expects to realise its target of producing 40 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2020.

China is seeking to diversify its energy structure away from coal which provides the nation with up to 70 percent of its power needs, but is highly polluting.

(Source: AFP)

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