Beijing, Feb 14

China is planning to develop a floating nuclear power platform in five years in a bid to provide stable power to offshore projects and promote ocean gas exploitation, it was reported on Tuesday.

Wang Yiren, vice director of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, made the announcement, the People's Daily reported.

Wang said Chinese authorities had carried out research on relevant core technologies as well as the standardisation of maritime nuclear power plants, adding that the development of the facility was a crucial part of the country's five-year economic development plan, running through 2020.

According to Wang, a diesel generator is currently the main power source for China's offshore operation and the daily lives of residents on the Nansha and Xisha Islands.

Diesel power is both inefficient and damaging to the environment. Developing a floating maritime nuclear power platform may solve these problems and facilitate the construction of larger vessels in the future, he said.

China won't be the first country to employ floating nuclear power plants.

In the 1960s, the US installed a nuclear reactor inside the hull of a freighter to provide electricity for the Panama Canal Zone. Ever since, nuclear reactors have been used on American and Russian ships to provide electrical power.

"Once China's own platform has been created, the design will be put to use in ocean gas and oil exploitation. The country is doing its own research on the project, as well as seeking cooperation with Russia to hasten the process," Wang said.

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