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China to fall short of 2020 nuclear capacity target: electricity council

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China will fall short of its nuclear power generation capacity target for 2020, according to a forecast from the China Electricity Council on Tuesday.

[BEIJING] China will fall short of its nuclear power generation capacity target for 2020, according to a forecast from the China Electricity Council on Tuesday.

The country's nuclear capacity is expected to reach 53 gigawatts (GW) next year, below a target of 58 GW, council vice-chairman Wei Shaofeng told the China Nuclear Energy Sustainable Development Forum in Beijing.

China is the world's third-biggest nuclear power producer by capacity, with 45.9 GW installed by end-2018 and 11 units still under construction, but its reactor building programme has stalled since Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Environmental impact assessments for two new projects in southeast China were submitted to regulators last month, paving the way for a resumption in the country's atomic energy programme after three years with no new approvals.

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If China raises the pace of nuclear construction to six-eight reactors a year over the 2021-2030 period, capacity should reach 137 GW by 2030, according to Wei. He said China's electricity consumption is expected to keep rising until at least 2035 and sees "big room" for nuclear power to grow.

He also forecast that China's nuclear capacity could reach 200 GW by 2035, with atomic energy serving as an "effective replacement" for the country's coal-fired power plants.

Experts speaking at the conference said China's ambitious nuclear power programme had been held back not only by the slowdown in new approvals, but also by the country's power pricing policies, which have left many nuclear reactors operating at less than full capacity in recent years.

REUTERS