Mainland China has 11 nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, 16 under construction, and at least eight more about to start construction in 2009.
Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give a sixfold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 60 GWe or possibly more by 2020, and then a further three to fourfold increase to 120-160 GWe by 2030.
The country aims to become self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other aspects of the fuel cycle.
Domestic electricity production in 2008 was 3,450 billion kWh, 5.8% more than in 2007 (3,260 billion kWh) and expected to rise to 3,810 billion kWh in 2010. Installed capacity had grown by the end of 2008 to 793 GWe, up 11% on the previous year's 713 GWe. Capacity growth is expected to slow, reaching 850-900 GWe in 2010, and around 1600 GWe in 2020. At the end of 2007, there was reported to be 145 GWe of hydro capacity, 554 GWe fossil fuel, 9 GWe nuclear and 4 GWe wind, total 713 GWe. In 2008, the country added 20.1 GWe of hydro capacity, 65.8 GWe coal-fired capacity, and 4.7 GWe wind.
Nuclear power has an important role, especially in the coastal areas remote from the coalfields and where the economy is developing rapidly. Generally, nuclear plants can be built close to centres of demand, whereas suitable wind and hydro sites are remote from demand. Moves to build nuclear power commenced in 1970 and the industry has now moved to a rapid development phase. Technology has been drawn from France, Canada and Russia, with local development based largely on the French element. The latest technology acquisition has been from the USA (via Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba) and France.
The government had planned to increase nuclear generating capacity to 40 GWe by 2020 (out of a total 1000 GWe then planned), with a further 18 GWe nuclear being under construction then, requiring an average of 2 GWe per year being added. In May 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission announced that its target for nuclear generation capacity in 2030 was 160 GWe. In March 2008, the newly-formed State Energy Bureau (SEB) said that the target for 2020 should be at least 5% of electricity from nuclear power, requiring at least 50 GWe to be in operation by then. In June 2008, the China Electrical Council projected 60 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2020. In July 2009, the State Council was reported to be considering raising the 2020 target to 86 GWe installed and 18 GWe under construction.
In 2007, nuclear power plants provided 62.86 billion kWh - 2.3% of total - and there is now 8.6 GWe (net) installed. The first two nuclear power plants in mainland China were at Daya Bay near Hong Kong and Qinshan, south of Shanghai, with construction starting in the mid-1980s.
China's concerted nuclear expansion began with the National Development and Reform Commission's (NDRC's) Tenth Economic Plan for the years 2001-2005. (China's first economic plan was in 1953 and began China's centrally planned industrialization under Mao Zedong.) The Eleventh Economic Plan for the years 2006-2010 set even more ambitious goals than the Tenth for new nuclear plant construction, and marked a watershed in China's commitment to third-generation reactors, such as the Sanmen plant in Zhejiang province and Haiyang plant in Shandong province (see section above on Reactor technology).
The Tenth Five-Year Plan incorporated the construction of eight nuclear power plants, though the timeline for contracts was extended, putting the last two into the 11th plan. In May 2004, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) applied to build eight (four pairs) of new reactors, four of them for China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC).
More than 16 provinces, regions and municipalities have announced intentions to build nuclear power plants in the 12th Five Year Plan 2011-15. These include Henan and Sichuan, as well as those listed in the Further nuclear power units proposed Table below - most of which have preliminary project approval by the central government but are not necessarily scheduled for construction. Provinces put together firm proposals with reactor vendors by 2008 and submitted them to the central government's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for approval during 2009. NRDC consideration is via the new National Energy Administration (NEA). A great many proposals were received, many of which will be deferred to the 13th Plan.
In its 2007 Annual Report, CPI said that at the end of the 12th Five Year Plan it expected to have 100 GWe of controllable installed capacity including three nuclear power bases: Liaoning, Shandong and inland.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGNPC) expects to spend $ 9.5 billion on its Lingao Phase II, Yangjiang and Taishan nuclear power plants by 2010 and to have 6000 MWe on line by then, with 12,000 MWe under construction. Work is under way at all these sites and also at Ningde. It is also making efforts to start on the Lufeng plant at Shanwei in Guangdong and Wuhu in Anhui province, but awaits NDRC approval. It is expecting to have 34,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020, providing 20% of the province's power, and 16,000 MWe under construction then. From 2010 it expects to commission three units per year and, from 2015, four units per year. CGNPC is also, due to State Council policy, committed to developing significant wind capacity through CGN Wind Co. It projects a total of 500 MWe by 2020.
In 2006, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) signed agreements in Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong and Hunan provinces and six cities in Hunan, Anhui and Guangdong provinces to develop nuclear projects. CNNC has pointed out that there is room for 30 GWe of further capacity by 2020 in coastal areas and maybe more inland such as Hunan "where conditions permit". In October 2007, CNNC's list of projects included Chuanshan (Jiangsu province), Jiyang (Anhui), Hebao Island (Guangdong), Shizu (Chongqing), Xudabao (Liaoning) and Qiaofushan (Hebei) amongst others.
CNNC said in December 2006 that it planned to build four 1000 MWe units at Heyuan, inland in northeast Guangdong, at a cost of US$ 6.4 billion, but no timing was mentioned.
In mid-2009, Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Co - a subsidiary of China Huaneng Group (CHNG) – said it had opened an office in the city of Yingtan in China's inland Jiangxi province for the development of a new nuclear power plant in the area. This is one of five sites for nuclear plants after Rongcheng which CHNG was reported in May to have selected: Cangnan in Zhejiang province, Huaining in Anhui, Xuyi in Jiangsu, and Xiapu in Fujian being the others.
In November 2007, the NDRC said that the government had budgeted CNY 450 billion ($65 billion) to build nuclear power capacity by 2020. It had selected 13 coastal sites to accommodate 59.46 GWe.