Beijing: The Chinese government announced the resumption of the construction of new nuclear power plants halted since Fukushima disaster in March 2011, but said it has permitted a "very small number" to be launched by 2015.
The construction of new nuclear power stations will be resumed in coast areas but only in a small number, a statement from the Chinese government said.
There was no mention of the numbers of the plants to be constructed.
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, some energy officials indicated China would embark on as many as 40 nuclear energy projects during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), and at least seven inland provinces applied to host plants, state-run China Daily reported.
The statement said China will resume construction of nuclear power plants "in a steady and orderly way" and "at a reasonable pace".
Two programmes, the national plan for nuclear power security (2011-20) and nuclear power development (2011-20) were approved yesterday at an executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.
A national energy development programme up to 2015 was also approved.
All new nuclear reactors must comply with the highest international safety standards, according to the plans, it said.
He Jiankun, director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Tsinghua University, said nuclear power strikes a balance between an increasing thirst for energy and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
"Nuclear energy is irreplaceable," he told state-run China Daily.
China`s competitiveness will be compromised if it rejects nuclear power or if it fails to use the latest nuclear technology, he said.
China`s nuclear power generating capacity accounts for just 1.8 per cent of its electricity, lower than the average 14 per cent for countries that have nuclear power, according to a government white paper on energy policies that was also released yesterday.
"The development of nuclear power is significant for the optimisation of China`s energy structure and will safeguard national energy security," it said, adding China will continue to develop nuclear energy in a "safe and highly efficient" way.