China plans to allow private domestic firms and foreign companies to invest in the country's nuclear power plants as it eyes massive nuclear power expansion, state media reported May 31. The government will still hold a controlling stake in all plants, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing Wang Yiren, a senior official with the State Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense Industry.
Over the coming years, China will build as many as three new nuclear power plants annually, bringing total installed capacity up to 40 gigawatts by 2020, according to the nation's long-term development plan for the nuclear power.
State media has reported earlier that China aims to build a strategic reserve for uranium in the coming years as global competition for the scarce resource heats up.
At the end of 2006, only 1.9% of China's total energy needs were produced by nuclear power but this is set to increase to 4% by 2020.
As part of the plan to promote cutting-edge third-generation nuclear technology, China signed in March a framework agreement with U.S. power plant maker Westinghouse for four nuclear power plants.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007