China has begun construction of a $476 million nuclear plant near a city on the east coast lifting the ban on new projects put in place after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan triggered by an underwater earthquake and tsunami.
Construction of the project at Shidao Bay in the coastal city of Rongcheng, east China's Shandong Province, began last month, Xinhua learned from Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (HSNPC), the builder and operator of the plant.
According to a white paper released by the government in October, China -- the world’s largest energy consumer – was seeking to more than triple its nuclear power capacity to 40 million kilowatts in 2015 from 12.54 million kilowatts at the end of 2011.
The paper added that China had 15 nuclear power-generating units in operation with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW, and another 26 units currently under construction will add another 29.24 GW, according to a government white paper on energy policy released in October 2012.
With a designed capacity of 200 megawatts and "the characteristics of fourth-generation nuclear energy systems," the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor will start generating power by the end of 2017, the HSNPC said in a statement.
Developed by China's Tsinghua University, the reactor has the features of "inherent safety" and "passive nuclear safety" in line with the fourth-generation concept, meaning it can shut down safely in the event of an emergency without causing a reactor core meltdown or massive leakage of radioactive material, according to the statement.
Originally scheduled to be launched in 2011, the construction of the project was put off after a tsunami hit nuclear facilities at Japan's Fukushima plant in March 2011, triggering a nuclear meltdown and public panic.
China suspended the approval of new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis..
Nuclear power only accounts for 1.8 percent of China's total power output, far below the world average of 14%, and China plans to increase its installed nuclear power capacity to 40 GW by 2015, the paper said.