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China to 'safely and effectively' develop nuclear power

(Xinhua)

08:16, March 06, 2012

BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Premier Wen Jiabao said in his report to the top legislature on Monday that China will "safely and effectively" develop nuclear power, marking the first time the issue has been addressed in a government work report.

In his report submitted to the 5th session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, Wen said the government will optimize the energy structure, promote the clean and efficient use of traditional energy sources, safely and effectively develop nuclear power, and increase the share of new energy and renewable energy in the country's total energy consumption.

He mentioned nuclear power again when talking about price reforms. "We will prudently carry out the reform of electricity prices by implementing progressive pricing for household electricity consumption and improving pricing mechanisms for nuclear power, hydropower and power generated from other renewable energy sources."

"The government work report is a signal that the Chinese government will resolutely resume the normal development of nuclear electricity," Zhu Zhiyuan, NPC deputy and vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Shanghai Branch, said after hearing Wen's report at the opening meeting of the NPC session.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis that happened in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011, aroused concerns among the Chinese general public over the safety of China's own nuclear power stations.

These concerns resulted in the suspension of the start of construction on four nuclear reactors that had already been approved. In 2011, no nuclear power projects were approved by the government.

However, Yang Qi, honorary president of the Nuclear Power Institute of China and a political advisor, said the country should not stop nuclear power projects out of safety concerns, due to the surging demand in energy consumption for economic growth.

"We should have full confidence in the safety of nuclear power," Yang said during panel discussions with other political advisors during the 5th session of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.

According to Yang, technologies used in China's operational nuclear power stations belong to the upgraded version of the second-generation of nuclear power reactors based on the French M310 technology.

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