Construction of northeast China's first nuclear power plant is expected to begin next year, a Chinese official said Thursday.
Preparations have begun for construction of the first phase of the Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant, located at the Donggang Town of Wafangdian City in Liaoning Province, Zhang Guobao, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a news conference in Beijing.
The first phase of the project will consist of two generating units each with an installed capacity of one million kilowatts. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011 at an estimated cost of 23 billion yuan (2.875 billion U.S. dollars).
China Power Investment Corporation, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co., Ltd. and two local companies in Liaoning have jointly set up the Liaoning Nuclear Power Co., Ltd., which is responsible for the construction and operation of the Hongyanhe project.
Hongyanhe project is one of the measures the central government has taken in the planned redevelopment of the northeast industrial region, said Li Wancai, vice governor of Liaoning.
Sitting on the eastern shore of the Liaodong Bay of the Bohai Sea and covering 380 hectares, the Hongyanhe project will be designed, built and operated by China, according to Liaoning Provincial Development and Reform Commission.
According to a source, a desalination plant will also form part of the the project so that seawater can be used by the power plant and local people.
Insiders said that the Hongyanhe project is expected to play a significant role in balancing power supply and consumption, reducing pollution and promoting manufacturing of nuclear power equipment in the northeast region.
China plans to increase its nuclear power installed capacity to 40 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for four percent of the country's total installed capacity by that time, said the National Development and Reform Commission's Zhang.
To reach the goal, China needs to build about 32 nuclear power units each with an installed capacity of one million kilowatts in the coming 15 years, Zhang said.
By the end of last year, nuclear power only made up 1.35 percent of China's total of 508 million kilowatts.
Currently, China has nine nuclear generators in commercial operation with a total capacity of about seven million kilowatts. One generator with a capacity of 1.06 million kilowatts is in trial operation and five others with a combined capacity of 4.52 million kilowatts are under construction.
China's power consumption has increased rapidly as a result of fast economic growth. The electricity consumption in the first quarter this year reached 624.98 billion kilowatts-hours, a year on year rise of 11.81 percent.
The potential for growth in nuclear power is drawing interest from international firms such as U.S.-based Westinghouse, France's Areva and Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE).