Material for the Press Conference of the State Council Information Office
  • Updated:2004-08-31
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   Speech by Mr. Zhang Huazhu, Vice Minister of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, and Chairman of China Atomic Energy Authority

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning.

The year 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China’s nuclear industry, and the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Peaceful uses of nuclear energy in China have gained robust development and achieved significant progress ever since the adoption of the policy of reform and opening-up. China has actively participated in international non-proliferation activities and has made contribution to the establishment of an effective non-proliferation regime. The Chinese government made new policies recently on further promoting nuclear power development. Here I would like to brief you on issues concerning the present situation and development prospect of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in China.

Established in 1955, China’s nuclear industry blazed a development road that is suitable to the national situation and scored eye-catching achievement with comparatively low input. Focusing on nuclear power construction, China’s peaceful uses of nuclear energy has made rapid development.

The Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), China’s first ever NPP that was independently designed and constructed, was put into operation in 1991, representing the windup of the history of no nuclear power in China’s mainland. The Daya Bay NPP accomplished in 1994 was a successful example of international cooperation in constructing nuclear power plants. Since 1996, the Qinshan Phase II NPP independently designed, and the Lingao NPP, Qinshan Phase III, and Tianwan NPP of international cooperation were constructed. Altogether 9 nuclear power units have been in operation by July 2004, with a total installed capacity of 7010 MW. The Tianwan NPP in Jiangsu Province that is still under construction will be accomplished and put into operation in 2005, increasing the total installed capacity of nuclear power to 9130 MW.

The nuclear-generated electricity in the mainland of China accumulated to 43.8 GWH in 2003, of which 41.5GWH was connected to the power grid. In Zhejiang and Guangdong, the nuclear electricity surpassed 13% of the total provincial power generation. Nuclear power has become an important part in the local power-mix, and made significant contribution to promoting local social and economic development. The nuclear power units in operation are in fine safety conditions and the radiation of the surroundings of NPPs remains at the level of natural background.

After more than 20 years of development, China has fostered solid foundations and capabilities in nuclear power technology, including R&D, engineering design, equipment manufacture, engineering construction and operation management; and is capable of independently designing and constructing 300MW and 600MW PWR units and constructing 1000 MW PWR units through international cooperation.

China takes nuclear power as an important component of the state’s energy strategy, and is increasing the proportion of nuclear energy in general energy supply. Nuclear power is going to be an important pillar in the electricity-mix in coastal areas with developed economy and high demands on electricity. The State Council recently made decisions on further promoting China’s nuclear power construction and approved the project in Sanmen of Zhejiang and expansion of Lingao NPP in Guangdong. Two PWR nuclear power units of 1000MW will be constructed on each site. The proposals of the project in Yangjiang, Guangdong and the expansion project of Qinshan Phase II are under review.

Under the guideline of “cooperating with international partners with China playing the major role, introducing technology and promoting localization”, China’s nuclear power construction takes unified technological line, adopts advanced technology, and continuously improves the safety level and economic performance of the reactor units, so that the self-reliance and localization of construction of large-scale nuclear power units can be achieved, and overall capabilities of nuclear power industry promoted.

While developing nuclear power, China actively carries out studies on uses of nuclear energy in other forms. The low-temperature nuclear heating system has successfully completed engineering studies. The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor reached full-power operation in early 2003, and the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor is under construction.

Driven by nuclear power construction, technological progress has been achieved in nuclear fuel cycle. Fabrication of NPP fuel assembly can be produced domestically; the spent fuel processing plant is under construction; two depositaries for medium and low radioactive wastes have been constructed and put into operation; and studies on in-depth geological disposal of radioactive solid wastes are progressing. A nuclear fuel cycle industry corresponding with nuclear power development in China will be established. The nuclear fuel assemblies are produced domestically, utilizing domestic and foreign uranium resources. China practices closed nuclear fuel cycle. Plutonium is abstracted from spent fuel to make uranium-plutonium mixed fuel for NPPs, paving the way for the development of fast neutron reactors.

Isotopes and radiological technologies are widely applied in China in such sectors as health, industry, agriculture, environmental protection and public security. There were more than 300 institutions engaged in nuclear technology applications across the country by the end of 2003, with a general output of 40 billion yuan RMB. It is expected that the industrial scope of applications of isotope and radiation technologies will exceed 100 billion yuan RMB in 2010.

China pays particular attention to nuclear safety. In the initial stage of nuclear energy development, China established a safety supervision and management system and nuclear safety standard in line with international practices through measures such as formulating regulations, establishing related institutions and defining responsibilities. The National Nuclear Safety Agency (NNSA) carries out independent safety supervision over the country’s civil nuclear facilities and examination of safety licenses of nuclear power plants and other civil nuclear facilities, and the follow-up supervision and examination. A three-level NPP nuclear accident emergency management system is in place, which has been in effective operation for more than a decade and made contributions to ensuring nuclear safety.

China highly emphasizes international cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Since her accession to IAEA in 1984, in particular, China has actively participated in and made due contributions to the international efforts in safeguards aiming at promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy and preventing nuclear proliferation. China officially joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group this year and made submission to IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards the prerequisite of nuclear export, and won high commendation form the international community.  

The development prospect of peaceful uses of nuclear energy is quite promising in China. We are willing to carry out wide cooperation with other countries based on equality and mutual benefit, to further promote its development to better serve the economic and social development and bring benevolence to the people.