New norms signal support for nuclear plants
China's top energy regulator on Thursday announced 164 industry standards, about half of which are related to nuclear power, a signal that the country will support its nuclear sector with new approvals for plants.
Experts said the standards pertain to the third-generation nuclear power technology used in the Westinghouse Electric Co's AP1000 and the domestically developed CAP1400.
"Clearly, these measures will provide a stimulus and introduce standard practices for the entire industry chain of China's nuclear power sector, including fuel suppliers, equipment manufacturers and power transmission and distribution enterprises," said Chai Guohan, chief engineer of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's nuclear and radiation safety center.
The move comes at a crucial time, with many speculating that the NEA's action may expedite the resumption of new approvals for inland nuclear projects.
Earlier this month, China General Nuclear Power Group signed a 38 billion yuan ($6.1 billion) contract to build two nuclear power plants in Southwest China's Guizhou province.
China's largest nuclear power operator will spend 35 billion yuan by 2020 on two 1.25 gigawatt generating units for a nuclear plant in the city of Tongren in Guizhou province, as well as 3 billion yuan on a smaller plant with two units.
"We will usher in a new era of inland nuclear power development," Tan Jiansheng, CGN's vice-general manager, said during the signing ceremony.
Apart from Guizhou, other inland regions such as Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei provinces are also eager for approvals.
Hunan has two nuclear power projects on the drawing board - the Taohua River power station and the Xiaomoshan project.
Wang Liangfang, director of the Hunan Provincial Energy Bureau, said construction could start on both because much preparatory work has been done on engineering and documentation.
China National Nuclear Corp, CGN's major rival, is the parent company of the project.
However, Chai warned that new inland nuclear projects won't start operating until 2015.