South Korea approves 4 new nuclear reactors and other global nuclear approvals and completions

1. South Korea said on Friday it will start to construct two new nuclear power plants in 2017 at the earliest and another two by 2022, making a total of 11 new nuclear plants planned by 2024.

The new plants come as public trust in nuclear power in South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of the energy source, has been undermined by a 2012 safety scandal over the supply of reactor parts with fake security certificates, along with the 2011 Fukushima crisis in neighbouring Japan.

In January, Seoul formally adopted a lower target for nuclear power as a proportion of its energy mix, but still plans to add 11 more nuclear reactors by 2024 to the 23 that currently supply a third of the country’s power. Last week the nuclear watchdog approved a new reactor.

2. South Korea’s Shin Wolsong 2 has been loaded with its first core of nuclear fuel as it prepares for commissioning. Fuel loading began at the 1050 MWe OPR-1000 reactor on 14 November after South Korea’s Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) issued an operating licence to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) for the reactor on 13 November. Fuel loading of the OPR-1000 reactor began the following day. The unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation in July 2015.

Construction began on Shin Wolsong 2 in 2008 and was completed in 2013.

3. Vietnamese officials have chosen Rosatom’s AES-2006 design for the country’s first nuclear power plant at Ninh Thuan, increasing the planned capacity of the four unit plant by about 800 MWe. A second plant should follow based on a partnership with Japan.

The choice of Russian technology for Ninh Thuan 1 at Phuoc Dinh has now been made, and Atomproekt based in Saint Petersburg will supply its version of the AES-2006 plant for at least the first two units. This design produces 1200 MWe for transmission over the grid and its replacement of the VVER-1000 units previously planned would add about 800 MWe to Ninh Thuan’s future generating capacity across four units.

The reactors are to be built over 2017-23 as a turnkey project.

4. Unit 1 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China’s Fujian province has entered commercial operation having successfully completed commissioning tests. It becomes China’s 22nd operating nuclear power reactor.

Plant constructor China Nuclear Engineering Corporation announced on 19 November that the 1080 MWe CPR-1000 reactor had completed a performance test while operating for 100 hours at full capacity. It said that this marked the official transition from commissioning to commercial operation.

Construction of the Chinese-developed CPR-1000 began in November 2008. The reactor achieved first criticality on 24 July 2014 and was connected to the grid on 20 August.

The Fuqing plant will eventually house six Chinese-designed pressurized water reactors. The first four units of the plant are CPR-1000 reactors. Unit 2, construction of which began in June 2009, is expected to start operating in August 2015. First concrete was poured for units 3 and 4 in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Those reactors should begin operation in February 2016 and March 2017.

5. Russia yesterday completed fuel loading at unit 3 of the Rostov nuclear power plant. The loading of 163 fuel assemblies into the VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor followed regulatory approval last week to bring the unit to first criticality.

Rosenergoatom, the Rosatom subsidiary that operates all of Russia’s civil nuclear power plants, said in a statement that construction and commissioning of the unit is ahead of schedule. Rosenergoatom said earlier this year it was scheduled to enter commercial operation by the end of 2014.