According to China's nuclear power development plan, the total nuclear power capacity in operation is to reach 40 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for 4 percent of the country's power generating capacity, said Zhang Guobao, vice minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission.
Zhang is also a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body currently holding its annual full session in the Chinese capital.
At the end of last year, the Chinese mainland had a total of 11 nuclear power generating units in operation, with combined installed capacity of nearly 10 million kilowatts, Zhang said.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that China produced about 3.28 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2007, which included only 1.9 percent of nuclear power.
At present, thermal power generating units account for 76 percent of the total installed power generating capacity, and they produce 84 percent of the country's electricity.
"It is necessary to increase the share of nuclear power and electricity based on renewal energy" while trying to reduce the dependence on coal for power generation, said Zhang.
There has been growing demand for building nuclear power plants in China and the progress has been made in the localization of nuclear power generating equipment, he said.
As nuclear power plants operating in China are all located in the coastal provinces such as Zhejiang, Guangdong and Jiangsu, other provinces have voiced increasing demand for building the facilities.
According to Zhang, the central government has permitted the inland provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi to make preparations for studying construction of nuclear power plants based on the third-generation nuclear power technology.