BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) - China's plan to raise its installed nuclear power capacity by 20 percent this year shows that the country is developing nuclear power in a safe and efficient way, according to a senior Chinese energy executive.
In 2013, 3.24 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power will be added to the country's existing capacity, according to a report on national economic and social progress submitted to the ongoing annual parliamentary session by the National Development and Reform Commission, China's economic planner.
The planned installation indicates that China is making greater efforts to develop nuclear power in a safe and efficient way, said He Yu, chairman of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group.
According to a government white paper on energy released in October 2012, China had 15 nuclear power-generating units in operation, with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW.
He said China has another 30 units currently under construction, which will add another 32.81 GW.
China will have the third-largest number of nuclear power-generating units in operation in the world by 2020, after the United States and France, according to He.
When the installed capacity of the units amounts to 58 GW by 2020, it will account for less than 4 percent of China's total power-generating capacity, compared with over 50 percent in France at present, He said.
The October white paper stated that nuclear power accounts for just 1.8 percent of China's total power output, far below the global average of 14 percent.
China's nuclear power development came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan in March 2011.
The country suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis. The approvals were cautiously resumed in October 2012.
Authorities have vowed not to build any nuclear power plants in inland regions during the 2011-2015 period, and they have demanded that the world's strictest safety requirements be applied to new plants.
Luo Qi, director of the China Nuclear Power Research Institute, said China has made substantial progress in raising safety standards for nuclear power plants in operation and for those that have been domestically designed.
Luo said China has actively accelerated the development of its ACPR1000 nuclear power technology, which features all Chinese-owned intellectual properties.
It has met the world's most advanced technical standards for nuclear power development. In terms of safety, cost-efficiency and technical achievement, the technology is ready to be used in the construction of China's nuclear power plants, Luo told Xinhua.
"Developing nuclear power is a natural choice, in terms of improving China's energy structure and ensuring safety. Nuclear energy is safe, clean and economical," He said.
In January, China broke ground on a 3 billion-yuan (476 million U.S. dollars) nuclear power project with a designed capacity of 200 megawatts in Rongcheng City in east China's Shandong Province.
The project will be the first in the world to feature a high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor with fourth-generation features to be used for commercial purposes. Developed by Tsinghua University, the reactor will start generating power by the end of 2017.
He said China has guaranteed supplies of uranium to satisfy the scaled development of nuclear power.
Global exploitable uranium resources are currently expanding at an average annual rate of 7 percent, and estimates show that there is enough to meet worldwide demand for nuclear power development for the next 100 years. Such resources are mainly found in Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Namibia. China has the 10th largest uranium reserves in the world.
Currently, nuclear power facilities are mainly located in the United States, France, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and China.
The Chinese government, He said, plans to ensure uranium supplies through domestic production, overseas exploitation and international trade.