• Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant Construction Site

Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant Construction Site (Photo : Getty Images)

According to a senior Chinese nuclear power executive, construction of new nuclear power plants in China must speed up in order to meet the country's targets on energy consumption. The government is targeting an increase in the use of nuclear energy to cut reliance on traditional fuel sources.

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With the goal of lowering pollution, the government is directed to use alternative energy sources. Coal burning produces smog which fills up China’s skies. The smog has caused health problems to the people for years.

In an official report of a Chinese newspaper, He Yu, chairman of state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), said that China has to build between four to six reactors yearly until 2020.

According to one of China’s biggest state reactor builders, the country’s installed nuclear capacity could increase to 120-150 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 from 2015’s 28.3 GW capacity.

Despite China’s efforts to boost nuclear energy consumption, repeated delays on nuclear plans still occur. The delays include a three-year suspension of the approval process from 2011 brought about by the country’s safety reviews.

Safety has been a constant concern in the use of nuclear energy resource, considering the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

China would not meet its targets to lower emissions if the roll-out of new third-generation nuclear reactors will not be hastened, He said.

At the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, He stated that "the pace of nuclear power projects in recent years is not in accordance with this target, and it's necessary to make sure the nuclear industry is back on track."

Though it is said to be safer in terms of pollution emission, the third generation nuclear reactor technology is mostly untested. China’s decision to move toward the use of this technology has caused setbacks on key projects. Design flaws have been reported to be the reason for repeated delays.

With the possible benefits and threats of using nuclear energy, China should consider both safety and efficiency in hastening its new nuclear power plant construction.