China is set to approve six to eight nuclear reactors this year, the China Nuclear Industry Association (CNIA) said in an annual report on Wednesday, as it races to reach an ambitious capacity target by 2020.
Another eight reactors will go into commercial operation this year, said Zhang Huazhu, the association’s general secretary. This would be the largest annual rise in China’s history.
Currently, China has 23 reactors that are in commercial operation with a total installed capacity of 21.4 gigawatts; another 26 reactors are under construction with additional capacity of 28.5 GW, according to Reuters.
However, China faces a hurdle meeting its capacity target of 58 GW by 2020 as there has been a suspension of new approvals following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.
Investment in China’s nuclear sector reached 56.9 billion yuan ($9.18 billion) in 2014, down 6.6 percent from the previous year, with no new projects approved, the CNIA said.
After a post-Fukushima safety review, China vowed to only approve the most advanced third-generation reactor designs, which are mostly untested, and the launch of the world’s first third-generation AP1000 in the eastern Zhejiang province has been delayed until next year.
China is also hoping to export its own reactor designs as talks with Argentina are continuing over the construction of a flagship “Hualong 1” Chinese reactor in the country, Zhang said, adding that nuclear cooperation agreements had been reached last year with Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Saudi Arabia.