Nuclear plants see powerful growth

Updated: 2013-09-26 09:53

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

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A rational choice

Beijing suspended approval of new nuclear power projects after the radiation leak at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But Zhao said this was simply an adjustment of the development pace. The plan to promote nuclear power has not changed.

Nuclear plants see powerful growth

A wind farm in Xuyi county, Jiangsu province. Its first phase generates 94.86 million kWh every year. Zhou Haijun / for China Daily

"That is mainly because of the pressure coming from airborne pollution, especially that from fine particles," he said. "To completely solve the problem, we must change our energy structure, which relies heavily on coal."

The environmental cost of nuclear power plants is much lower than that of coal-fired plants. Greenhouse gases emitted during the nuclear fuel chain are only one-hundredth the level of those emitted during the coal-fuel chain under a similar scale, said Ye Qizhen, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, speaking at the China International Nuclear Power Equipment Exhibition in Beijing this month.

Ye said nuclear power is a better choice for China than wind power, because the wind turbines required for the latter take up too much land.

The country used more than 500 billion kWh of electricity in August, an increase of 13.7 percent compared with the same period last year, according to data from the National Energy Administration on Sept 14.

"As public expectation of good air quality grows with the demand for electricity, the prediction that nuclear power will account for about 5 percent of China's total energy consumption by 2020 seems far from sufficient," Zhao said.

He said the huge consumption of coal has also become a great burden on the transport industry, adding that 60 percent of the country's rail capacity and 40 percent of its waterways capacity are reserved for coal transportation.

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Jiang Xueqing and Yang Yang contributed to the story.

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