China has restarted it nuclear programme with “third generation” technology and even stricter safety standards as it seeks to ease reliance on energy imports by expanding nuclear power back home.

Beijing claimed it would construct “only a few” new nuclear power plants through 2015 after suspending approvals for new nuclear projects in March last year to review its nuclear safety practices in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. The world’s biggest consumer of energy hopes the resumption of its nuclear programme will draw 11.4% of energy consumption from non-fossil fuels by 2015.

The new plan, approved in a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, will require new plants to be built with “third generation” technology, or advanced technologies pioneered by Japan’s Toshiba and France’s Areva, reports the Financial Times. Beijing also said that the projects should comply to “the highest safety standards in the world”.

CNC Asset Management founder Na Liu said the approval of new projects could gain momentum if authorities were satisfied of the strict safety standards.

“The new safety standards are going to be extremely strict by global standards,” Zhou Xizhou, head of China Energy at IHS Cera in Beijing, said. Beijing is allocating around $12.8 billion to upgrade the facilities to international standards, a government assessment indicated.