Beijing: China, which has halted a host of new nuclear power projects to conduct a safety review in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, has said it will keep on developing atomic power which has become a key part of efforts to address its energy problems.
   
"No matter what circumstances, it is inevitable to include nuclear power as a significant component of China's effort to resolve energy problems," Zhang Guobao, Advisory Board Chairman of China's National Energy Administration (NEA) was quoted by the state-run newspaper as telling the International Capital Conference in Paris.
    
Zhang's remarks came against the backdrop of China's decision to suspend approval for new plants and announcement about a sweeping review of nuclear safety and atomic energy laws and regulations after Japan's Fukushima atomic disaster following a massive earthquake and tsunami there in March.
     
China currently has 14 reactors and 27 others, mostly of 1000 mw capacity, are under construction amounting to over 40 percent of the global total, according to data from the World Nuclear Association.
    
By the end of 2010, China's installed nuclear power capacity had reached 10.82 million kilowatts, with another 30.97 million kilowatts under construction, according to a White Paper published this week. But China still relies heavily on coal, consuming 3.2 billion tonnes, or 46 percent of the world's total, in 2010.
    
Zhang, a former head of the NEA, said China cannot rely on coal to further develop its economy and improve people's lives.
   
He said the safety of nuclear plants could be ensured, according to existing technology, even if "the Japan earthquake and tsunami happened again".
China needs to diversify its energy mix, increasing the amount of nuclear (energy) in the variety of options to meet future electricity demand," Didier Houssin, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the International Energy Agency, said on the sidelines of the conference.

(Agencies)