China is expanding nuclear power construction plans faster than earlier planned, a senior energy official told state media on Saturday, saying installed power capacity by 2020 could be 50 percent above the initial goal.
China's nuclear energy development plan had called for operating power capacity to hit 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, enough to power Spain but feeding just 4 percent of total generating capacity for the voracious Chinese economy.
But Zhang Guobao, a vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission long involved in energy planning, said he now expected installed nuclear power capacity of 60 GW by that date, Xinhua news agency reported.
Xinhua cited Zhang as saying that "construction of nuclear power plants has been progressing faster than planned".
Sixty GW of nuclear capacity in 12 years is about five new nuclear plants each year. This growth rate is about the same rate the U.S. achieved when it built nuclear plants in the '70s and '80s.
More nuclear plants would help displace the projected 891 GW of new coal capacity in China by 2030 (page 597 in the World Energy Outlook 2007). Hopefully the 60 GW of emission-free nuclear capacity by 2020 is a warm-up to a much greater expansion of nuclear power in China.