BEIJING (Reuters) - China should scale back its ambitious reactor building plans in the wake of Japan's nuclear disaster, an official with the country's power industry association said in remarks published on Monday.
Wei Zhaofeng, the vice-chairman of the China Electricity Council (CEC), said the body was recommending a lower nuclear capacity target for 2020 and a slowdown in reactor construction in interior regions, the China Business News reported.
China originally planned to raise total nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2020, from about 10.8 gigawatts currently, but after the government fast-tracked the approval of dozens of new reactors, many industry officials said the target was likely to be met five years early.
Beijing was widely expected to announce a new 2020 target this year, with the industry expecting the original figure to be doubled. Reactor plans in China's inland regions, including one in quake-prone Sichuan, were also anticipated.
CEC, an industrial body that counts the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) among its members, called for a new 2020 capacity target of 90 GW in a report published late last year.
But Wei said the figure should be scaled back by at least 10 GW, adding that China's nuclear plants should not make up more than 3 percent of total national power capacity.
China has already said it would "adjust and improve" its plans for the nuclear sector following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which crippled a nuclear power complex on the country's northeast coast.
Last Friday, the chairman of the science and technology committee of CNNC told reporters that the Chinese government should not waver in its commitment to nuclear power, adding that nuclear reactors remained much safer than coal-fired power plants.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Ken Wills)