March 10, 2015 / 11:24 AM / 5 years ago

China approves first nuclear project since Fukushima

March 10 (Reuters) - China has given the go-ahead for the launch of a major domestic nuclear power project, marking the first such approval since a temporary freeze on new construction following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

China General Nuclear Power Group has received state approval to build two one-gigawatt (GW) reactors in the second phase of a project called Hongyanhe in the northeastern province of Liaoning, the Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The project will use what the company calls home-grown “third-generation” reactor technology, dubbed ACPR1000, the report said, citing Yang Xiaofeng, general manager of the Hongyanhe project.

China froze new construction and implemented a year-long safety review after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

While it lifted the construction ban at the end 2012, China has been slow to approve new nuclear projects. Beijing has promised to stick to the highest safety standards, using third generation reactors.

In an estimated $100 billion expansion programme, China aims to raise its domestic nuclear power capacity to 58 GWs by 2020 from 20.3 GW at the end of 2014. Nuclear capacity would still only meet 3 percent of China’s total electricity needs by 2020.

China is also seeking to export its home-grown third-generation reactors, such as Hualong 1 and CAP1400, to an overseas market potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

But industry executives and analysts say it faces a major obstacle: it needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home first.

China General Nuclear is the state-owned parent of CGN Power , which raised $3.2 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong in December. (Reporting by Charlie Zhu in Hong Kong and David Stanway in Beijing; editing by David Clarke)

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