BEIJING, March 7 (Reuters) - China plans to start construction on six to eight nuclear reactors this year and raise its total nuclear generating capacity by as much as 6 gigawatts, the country's energy administration said on Wednesday.
The National Energy Administration said China also aimed to complete two long-delayed, foreign-designed third-generation reactor projects this year - including the world's first Westinghouse AP1000 in Zhejiang province, and the first unit of the Taishan European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) project designed by Areva in Guangdong. The AP1000 was originally expected to make its debut at Sanmen in Zhejiang in 2014, but it is more than three years behind schedule, dogged by safety concerns and design changes. Though construction at Sanmen has entered its final phase, fuel loading at the project was suspended earlier this year, with a spokesman with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) saying China needed to ensure the reactor meets the highest possible safety standards.
The EPR project has also been subject to a series of delays and construction problems, including cracks in some of the components.
China has not approved a new reactor project for more than two years, and the country could fall short of its 2020 targets.
Beijing aims to raise the country's total installed nuclear capacity to 58 gigawatts by the end of the decade, up from 35.8 gigawatts at the end of 2017. It also plans to have another 30 gigawatts under construction by the end of 2020. (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)