China and Russia plan a nuclear energy future – Six new nuclear reactors per year planned in China and Russia has over 20 nuclear reactors for export construction

The Chinese government has said many times since the end of 2013 that it will build more nuclear power plants in the coastal areas of eastern China without compromising the region’s safety.

On May 16, the National Development and Reform Commission, the National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Environment Protection disclosed a program, saying that they will press forward with the construction of safe and efficient nuclear power plants, which they said are one of the country’s important energy sources.

Chinese nuclear power plants, both those operational and those under construction, will have a combined power capacity of 58,000 megawatts (MW) by 2015, which will further appreciate to 88,000 MW by 2020.

China will start six new reactors every year from 2015 to 2020.

China will put 640 billion yuan (US$103.6 billion) into the nuclear power industry before 2020, with 480 billion yuan (US$77.7 billion) spent on building facilities, including 70 billion yuan (US$11.3 billion) in 2014, according to the China Nuclear Energy Association.

Currently, China has 21 reactors in operation, in addition to 28 units under construction

Russia’s plans for domestic and export nuclear energy

Russia has over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction. This is its $100 billion backlog of orders.

The latest Russian Federal Target Program (FTP) envisages a 25-30% nuclear share in electricity supply by 2030, 45-50% in 2050 and 70-80% by end of century.

Rosatom [Russia] expects to obtain orders for 80 reactors worldwide and is planning to triple sales by 2030. Last year the company increased its foreign contracts’ portfolio by 60 percent to $66.5 billion and had initially planned $73 billion worth of new orders this year.

Russia has a $55-billion plan to make Russia a leading global supplier of nuclear power.

Russia intends to build roughly 40 new reactors at home, and it expects as many as 80 orders from other countries by 2030. Included are facilities that would generate power and desalinate water, of particular interest in the Middle East.

Most of Russia’s nuclear reactors are being licensed for life extension: Generally, Russian reactors were originally licensed for 30 years from first power. Late in 2000, plans were announced for lifetime extensions of twelve first-generation reactors totalling 5.7 GWe, and the extension period envisaged is now 15 to 25 years, necessitating major investment in refurbishing them. Generally the VVER-440 and most RBMK units will get 15-year life extensions and the VVER-1000 units 25 years. (Kola 1 & 2 VVER-440 and the Kursk and Leningrad RBMK units are all models which the EU has paid to shut down early in countries outside Russia.)

Most reactors are being uprated. The July 2012 Energy Ministry draft plan envisaged increasing the power of VVER-440 units to 107%, that of RBMKs to 105% and VVER-1000 units to 104-110% (revised to 107-110% in 2013).

During 2010-11 the uprating program was completed for all VVER units except Novovoronezh 5 (see below): 4% for VVER-1000, 5% for VVER-440. The cost of this was put at US$ 200 per kilowatt, compared with $2400/kW for construction of Rostov 2. Kalinin units 1-3 are quoted at 1075 MWe gross after uprate.

Rosenergoatom has been investigating further uprates of VVER-1000 units to 107-110% of original capacity, using Balakovo 4 as a pilot plant to 2014. The cost of further uprates beyond 104% is expected to be up to $570/kW, depending on what needs to be replaced – the turbine generators being the main items. It seems that for the V-320 units, pilot commercial operation at 104% power will be carried out over three fuel campaigns, with the reactor and other system parameters being monitored and relevant data collected. After this period, a cumulative 104% power operation report will be produced for each plant. Rostechnadzor will then assess safety and possibly licence commercial operation at the higher power level.

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