China has 21.9 Gigawatts of Nuclear Power Under Construction and More Nuclear Plant Uprates


According to statistics released by the National Energy Administration Jan. 6, 20 nuclear power plants were under construction at the end of 2009, with a total capacity of 21.92 million kW.

Construction started in 2009 were two 1.25 million kW nuclear power units in Sanmen, Zhejiang province, two 1.25 million kW nuclear power units in Haiyang, Shandong province and two 1.75 million kW nuclear power units in Taishan, Guangdong province.

China Nuclear Engineering Group and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation inked a 5.3-billion-yuan deal in Beijing for building eight nuclear power units on Dec. 23, 2009 This is the biggest project with the largest investment for nuclear power construction in China.

The agreement includes the installation of a nuclear island in Taishan, Guangdong province, the first and the most advanced Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) in China. Other projects include CPR units in Fujian, Guangdong and Guangdong provinces.

The signing of the agreement marks a new beginning of rapid, large and standard development of nuclear power construction in China.

2. Only two new nuclear power reactors began operation in 2009, although only four were closed. Work on 12 new units, however, signals serious growth for coming years.

More capacity additions from uprates of existing reactors around the world added 808 MWe in 2009, the end result being a net increase in nuclear capacity of 744 MWe to 372,671 MWe.

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3. An increasing number of US utilities are opting to increase the generating capacities of their existing nuclear power reactors, creating a $25 billion market, according to the Shaw Group.

37 reactors out of the USA’s total of 104 had already completed or were in the process of implementing power uprates. 67 American reactors could potentially be uprated. With the average cost of uprating a unit at $250-500 million, he put the value of this potential market at around $25 billion. Shaw noted that both Exelon and Entergy have announced plans to uprate some of their reactors. Total expected uprates over the next 5 years is about 4150 MWe of new nuclear capacity in the USA – almost as much as three or four new reactors could provide.

4. A new joint venture aims to commercialize Russian technology for small lead-cooled fast SVBR-100 reactors.

A prototype is required to prove design improvements since marine use and this should be ready by 2019. The companies’ statement said their initial estimates show that large-scale production of SVBR-100s could bring down costs to the same level as for coal-fired generation.

The name SVBR-100 comes from the Russian ‘Svintsovo-Vismutovyi Bystryi Reaktor’ which means ‘lead-bismuth fast reactor’ and the electric generating capacity, 100 MWe.

It uses chemically inert heavy liquid metal coolant in a primary circuit entirely integrated into the reactor pressure vessel. The coolant increases from 345 °C to 495 °C on passage through the reactor core and this heat is transferred to a secondary circuit and used to drive a steam turbine. From a gross thermal power of 280 MWt the net output would be 100 MWe, although smaller models are also on the drawing board and the original submarine version produced 155 MWt.

The reactor unit would be factory assembled and shipped to site for installation inside a tank of water that would provide passive heat removal and radiation shielding. Uranium oxide enriched to 16.5% uranium-235 would be one fuelling option. Reloads would only be carried out every seven to eight years.

5. China’s ambitious expansion of nuclear power capacity is driving huge growth in its domestic supply industry, with companies quickly diversifying into the sector.

The country has budgeted $65 billion for nuclear build, which hinges on replicating the Westinghouse-designed AP1000 reactor and the CPR-1000. The latter is based on technology purchased from France’s Areva.

China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute are working on an AP1000-inspired reactor, a more powerful CAP-1400 (1400 MWe) which is set for construction starts in 2013. “The export potential of both reactors, and the earnings for China, as the IPR owner, would be significant,” said Zhongmao Gu, a nuclear equipment specialist at China Institute of Atomic Energy.

China First Heavy Industries (YiZhong) in the northern steel-belt Heilongjiang province, is perhaps the market leader in equipment manufacturing. It produces pressure vessels and pressurisers for nuclear plants up to 1 GWe. It also makes forgings for steam generators as part of a $340 million expansion which could see it outputting five reactor sets per year by 2015.