BEIJING (AP) — A utility company says it has started building China's first new nuclear power plant since Beijing lifted a construction moratorium imposed on the industry to review safety following Japan's Fukushima disaster.
The facility in the eastern coastal city of Rongcheng will incorporate Chinese-developed safety features and is due to start operation by the end of 2017, according to the state-owned Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Co.
China's decision to press ahead with nuclear development runs counter to moves in other countries such as Japan and Germany, which plan to scale back or shut down their nuclear power industries.
China is the world's biggest energy consumer, and nuclear power is a key element in official efforts to curb surging demand for fossil fuels.
Beijing suspended approval of new nuclear power plants to carry out safety reviews following the Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant. That caused partial meltdowns that were the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.
The government said in October it would resume approving new nuclear power plants but said only a few would be allowed. It said the highest safety standards would be required and facilities would be allowed only in coastal areas.
The new plant will incorporate safety features developed at Tsinghua University in Beijing that are meant to allow it to shut down in emergencies without leaking radioactive material, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the operator. The company is part of China Huaneng Group, one of the country's biggest state-owned utilities.
The 3 billion yuan ($475 million) facility in Rongcheng, in Shandong province, will have a generating capacity of 200 megawatts, Xinhua said. The company said it broke ground in December and has poured a portion of the foundation.