China Starts Operating Most Powerful Single Nuclear Reactor

China has completed and is now operating an advanced french designed EPR nuclear reactor with 1750 MW of power. This is the most energy from a single nuclear reactor.

The main design objectives of the third generation EPR design are increased safety while providing enhanced economic competitiveness through improvements to previous PWR designs scaled up to an electrical power output of around 1650 MW (net) with thermal power 4500 MW. The reactor can use 5% enriched uranium oxide fuel, reprocessed uranium fuel or 100% mixed uranium plutonium oxide fuel. The EPR was designed to use uranium more efficiently than older Generation II reactors, using approximately 17% less uranium per unit of electricity generated than these older reactor technologies.

The first two EPR units to start construction, at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France, are both facing costly delays (to at least 2020). Construction commenced on two Chinese units at Taishan in 2009 and 2010. Taishan 2 is expected to begin operation in 2019. Two units at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom received final approval in September 2016 and are expected to be completed by 2025.

There are new EPR redesigns which will allow for simpler and faster construction.

The EPR design has several active and passive protection measures against accidents:

* Four independent emergency cooling systems, each providing the required cooling of the decay heat that continues for 1 to 3 years after the reactor’s initial shutdown (i.e., 300% redundancy)
* Leak tight containment around the reactor
* An extra container and cooling area if a molten core manages to escape the reactor (see containment building)
* Two-layer concrete wall with total thickness 2.6 meters, designed to withstand impact by airplanes and internal overpressure