China, the world's second-largest energy consumer after the United States, will spend some 400 billion yuan (US$48.33 billion) on building new nuclear power plants by 2020.
The energy-hungry country intends to increase the amount of installed nuclear power capacity from the current 16 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts - or 4 per cent of the total installed capacity - within 15 years, Kang Rixin, president of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), said.
Nuclear power generation is expected to triple to reach 60 gigawatts by that time, or 6 per cent of the country's total electricity output from the current 2.3 per cent, according to Kang.
To reach this rather ambitious goal, the country "should build another 30 or so 1-gigawatt (GW) units in China," according to the president of the country's largest nuclear reactor builder.
These greenhouse-gas-free power plants will be focused in the populous south and east provinces such as Fujian and Zhejiang, which are short on the hydrocarbons that fuel power plants in the north and west.
Nuclear power plant generation has so far reached 13 per cent of the total power generation mix in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, Kang said.
The country currently has 19 reactors in operation, under construction or with the central government's final approval.
Two under-construction reactors in Tianwan, Jiangsu Province, which use Russian technology, are expected to go on line by the end of this year and the beginning of next year. said the CNNC president.