China is set to cut its 2020 target for nuclear power and replace it with an increased solar power target, in the aftermath of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan. China has now surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest energy consumer, so this is a significant development.
At the beginning of the month, the renewable energy department of China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) reportedly announced that the country is seriously considering increasing its 5 year solar power target, from 5 gigawatts to 10 gigawatts. Previously, China’s longer-term 2020 target was 80 gigawatts for nuclear power and 20 gigawatts for solar.
These changes have not yet been officially announced, and it may not change China’s longer-term plans. The state is almost certain to slow down development of nuclear plants in an attempt to make future plants safer, but it may not impact long-term plans for nuclear power. Various officials have indicated this is the case.
For instance, NDRC Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua has said that China won’t be changing it’s longer-term nuclear power plans, even though the Cabinet has halted approvals for new plants for the time being.