Energy-hungry China had suspended building new nuclear plants after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan which crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant there and triggered a huge nuclear crisis.
The China Daily, quoting energy officials, reported that prior to the Fukushima disaster, China had planned on up to 40 nuclear energy projects during its 2011-2015 five-year plan.
However, in its latest announcement, the Chinese government said it would resume building nuclear power plants "in a steady and orderly way" and "at a reasonable pace."
The announcement came after the Chinese Cabinet headed by Premier Wen Jiabao approved two programs, the national plan for nuclear power security (2011-20) and the nuclear power development (2011-20), China Daily said. The plans call for all new nuclear reactors to comply with the highest international safety standards, the report said.
A government white paper said China's current nuclear power generating capacity accounts for 1.8 percent of its total electricity generation, lower than the average 14 percent for countries that have nuclear power. It said coal accounts for about 70 percent of China's energy consumption and about 80 percent of its electricity production
"Nuclear energy is irreplaceable," He Jiankun, director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Tsinghua University, told the newspaper. He said nuclear power strikes a balance between an increasing thirst for energy and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that China's competitiveness would be compromised if it rejects nuclear power or fails to use the latest nuclear technology.