China approving new domestic nuclear reactor projects and gearing up for nuclear exports

1.

China approved construction of its first nuclear power project since the Fukushima disaster in Japan almost four years ago brought the program to a standstill.

China’s State Council gave the go-ahead on Feb. 17 to begin building two new reactors at China General Nuclear Power Group’s Hongyanhe plant in the country’s northeast.

Nuclear power is among the clean energies China hopes to rely on in a bid to cap carbon emissions by 2030. Atomic energy now accounts for just 2 percent of the country’s total power generation, according to International Energy Agency reports.

China may soon approve another two nuclear units in Fujian province, and may eventually approve construction of six to eight units within the year, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified official close to the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s economic planner.

2. As China signs global deals to export its nuclear power technology, it faces a huge obstacle: it still needs to show it can build and safely operate these reactors at home.

China signed a preliminary agreement last month to sell its flagship Hualong 1 reactor to Argentina.

China’s first Hualong 1 project, in Fujian province, may not be completed until 2020, assuming it breaks ground this year and construction goes smoothly, said Li Ning, dean of the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University.

CNNC’s ACP1000 and CGN’s ACPR1000 were ‘merged’ into one standardised design – the Hualong One.

Each company has its own supply chain and their versions of Hualong One will differ slightly (units built by CGN will use some features from the ACPR1000) but the design is considered to be standardised. It is set for wide deployment in China as well as export to other countries. Some 85% of its components will be made domestically.

Evolution of the CPR1000 design, many CPR1000 built. Upgrading from the French design

The CPR-1000 is a significantly upgraded version of the 900 MWe-class French M310 three-loop technology imported for the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in the 1980s and also built at Ling Ao. Known as the ‘improved Chinese PWR’ and designated Generation II+, it features digital instrumentation and control and a design life of 60 years. Its 157 fuel assemblies (4.3 m long) have calculated core melt frequency of 1×10-5 and a release probability an order of magnitude lower than this.

Standard construction time is 52 months, and the claimed unit cost was under CNY 10,000 (US$ 1600) per kilowatt, though 2013 estimates put it at about $2300/kW domestically. With a capacity of 1080 MWe gross (1037 MWe net), Ling Ao Phase II is the first plant to be designated as the CPR-1000 design. The CPR-1000 was being widely and quickly deployed for domestic use, with 57 likely to be built, as of end of 2010.

Hualong designed took out some of the french design so that chinese intellectual property could be used and enable export.

3.

The second unit of the Shin Wolsong plant was connected to the power grid today following the successful completion of commissioning tests, plant owner Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced.

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 KHNP for the reactor.

Since then, the reactor has achieved first criticality and various tests – including the hot functional test – have been performed. KHNP noted that the unit was connected to the grid just 104 days after the NSSC issued the operating licence.

The company said it is aiming to begin commercial operation of the unit in July 2015.

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