China set to appnew nuke plants, ending moratorium

China said that it is ready to approve new nuclear power plants as part of ambitious plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal.

Beijing: China said Wednesday that it is ready to approve new nuclear power plants as part of ambitious plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal, ending a moratorium imposed after Japan`s Fukushima disaster last year.

The government said it hopes to generate 30 per cent of China`s power from solar, wind and other renewable sources as well as from nuclear energy by the end of 2015. That`s up from an earlier target of 15 per cent from renewables plus 5 per cent from nuclear by 2020.

The Communist government is aggressively promoting wind, solar, hydro and other alternative energy sources to reduce pollution from coal plants and curb surging reliance on imported oil, which it sees as a national security risk.

The Cabinet today passed plans on nuclear power safety and development that said construction of nuclear power plants would resume "steadily."

Only a small number of plants will be built, and only in coastal areas, according to a Cabinet announcement about the plans. The plants will meet the most stringent safety standards, it said.

No date was given for resuming construction of nuclear plants.

Despite widespread public concern over possible radiation contamination from the Fukushima disaster and calls for improved safety precautions and emergency preparedness, China remains committed to building up nuclear power to help reduce emissions from coal-fired plants and curb its reliance on costly oil imports.

China suspended approvals of new nuclear plants in March last year after a tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake crippled the Fukushima plant`s cooling and backup power systems, causing partial meltdowns in the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

China`s leaders ordered safety checks for existing nuclear facilities, a review of projects under construction and improved safety standards.

"The inspection results show that nuclear security is guaranteed in China," according to a government report on its energy policy also released today. "China implements the principle of `safety first` in the whole process of nuclear power station planning."