China Nuclear Power Plant Provides Heat to Replace 900,000 Tons of Coal per Year

China has added heat capture equipment at the Haiyang 2 nuclear plant so it provide heat to 1 million homes and avoid the use of 900,000 tons of coal each year. The plant heating project began in July last year and has now been completed. The heating pipe network and pumping station in the plant are now being constructed. The project is planned to be put into operation before the end of 2023. The nuclear energy heating source project has required an investment of CNY390 million (USD57 million).

The long-distance pipeline will have an annual heating capacity that can reach 9.7 million gigajoules, providing heat to a 13 million square metre area and meeting the needs of 1 million residents. This will replace the consumption of some 900,000 tonnes of coal, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.65 million tonnes.

The Haiyang plant officially started providing district heat to the surrounding area in November 2020. A trial of the project – the country’s first commercial nuclear heating project – was carried out the previous winter, providing heat to 700,000 square metres of housing, including the plant’s dormitory and some local residents. Earlier in 2020, the project began providing heating to the entire Haiyang city.

The first phase of a district heating demonstration project at the Qinshan nuclear power plant in China’s southern Zhejiang Province was commissioned in December 2021. The project is divided into three phases. The initial phase now provides nuclear energy-generated central heating to 460,000 square metres of accommodation in three residential areas and 5000 square metres of apartments for nearly 4000 residents of Haiyan County. The overall project goal is to have a nuclear heating area of ​​4 million square metres by 2025, covering the main urban area of ​​Haiyan County and the entire area of ​​Shupu Town.

14 thoughts on “China Nuclear Power Plant Provides Heat to Replace 900,000 Tons of Coal per Year”

  1. A dedicated small reactor seems a better fit. Since district heating requires low tees (my home heater runs at 65C water) this could just be a little pool type reactor, below grade or underground so it can be close to a city. It wouldn’t need expensive pressure vessels and containment. Plate type HX with 5C approach tee means the reactor runs at 70C only. Tons of water means inherent safety. Spent fuel could be stored in the same pool for bonus gratuitous heat. Reactor could be dual purpose (research reactor, medical isotopes). Might be worth running in summer to charge up a massive reservoir of warm water for winter.

  2. 100km heat pipeline, from tertiary loop exit steam? Fat chance of that unless they’re vacuum insulating the thing, and even then I would be skeptical.

    • I would think that it depends a lot on the velocity of the working fluid flow. Out of respect for the whole geothermal heating of Iceland thing, (which I visited at length about 10 years back), I can tell you that once the hot-water pipes are buried, they don’t need much insulation at all. And can definitely go 50 km with little heat losses. ONCE the surrounding ground comes to equilibrium with the pipes.

      At one point (though now no longer used) the Reykjavik council erected 3 enormous hot-water tanks on top of a hill near the city as a reservoir for the heat. They dwarfed even our back-yard Richmond Refineries oil storage tanks. Apparently, taking the tour, the giant things were insulated with glass wool and outside that, styrofoam. About 15 inches thick, all told. Kept water hot indefinitely.

      That was all replaced however with a more continuous feed system. Super-heated water from their geothermal power plants couldn’t be used as it has too high of a load of acids and minerals. Effluent from their ridiculously numerous Geyser fields now provides most of the heat, and a system of continuous mixing-and-distributing means that they have very little need either for conservation or for intermediate storage.

      ALL the homes (with the exception of the very oldest historically sensitive ones) have piped in super-hot water. It is a bit of a mixed blessing : sure its hot, but it really smells vile. All that H2S is just crazy stinky. Funny thing is ‘you get used to it’, and its volatility is also a benefit. You can take showers in the stink-water, come out smelling like something nasty, and by the time you’re dry, all that stink will have evaporated. Crazy, that.

      In any case, municipal investment in hot water from an essentially un-stoppable source (like a nuclear reactor) seems to me to be a good thing. Way more use than just heating the air to get rid of the heat.

    • Yes. For the example a 1 m diameter pipe with 0.1 m thick insulation of 0.1 wmk conductivity and a 70C average dT to ambient would lose about 220 W/m.

      100 km of that would amount to 22 MW. That indeed is a large heat loss; district heating systems would typically be in the 10 to 100 MW range, though China’s big cities might need more.

      So the pipes would need good insulation. Vacuum sealed carbon filled aerogel would be good.

    • Yes, and for that matter, also seawater-to-fresh vacuum distillation plants. The greenhouses like distilled water. So do people, with a modest amount of selected minerals added back in.

      It takes about 10 kWh of heat input to vacuum distill 1 m^3 o seawater to a bunch of brine and distillate. Even though the Israelis have pioneered using reverse osmosis at about 3 kWh/m^3 for the same task, all that free heat doesn’t convert at reasonable efficiency to electricity. Might as well use it directly.


  3. Long ways to send warm water. Typically, district heating sends low-pressure steam, with heat released by condensation of the steam.

    The steam pressure in a condenser in a nuclear plant is sub-atmospheric in order to maximize the efficiency of the power plant. The cooling water leaving the condenser is typically a little north of 100 degrees F.

    While the nuclear plant has massive amounts of waste energy, the temperature of the waste water is relatively low. Should note about 65% of the energy produced by a nuclear plant is wasted.

    • Presumably they would run a closed water circuit and use that as condenser. Then the vacuum decreases and turbine makes a bit less power when district heating is on. In summer they would run the normal heat sink and operate condenser at higher vacuum for more power?

    • Looks like that waters from a 3rd loop taking heat like a cooling tower. Should have zero in leakage from condensate at lower pressure. Condensate itself is the secondary and would have near zero contamination itself.

  4. May not be the most cost-effective way to provide heat. And it requires the nuclear power plant to be located somewhat near the population center. It also requires a lot of pipes to move the steam around. Heat pumps should be cheaper.

    • You’re neglecting the fact that the nuclear power plant is generating the heat anyway. They’re just using it rather than throwing it away.

      In this particular case the plant was already in existence. It’s not a reactor built specifically to provide steam for heating purposes, they’re just using waste heat for district heating.

      Though a reactor designed for that purpose can potentially be a lot cheaper than a power reactor, because it never needs to handle the higher temperatures needed for efficient operation of turbines.

      Location near a population center isn’t really an genuine issue, given the absurdly high safety record of nuclear power, fractional deaths per TWH, and those mostly in the mining and construction industry, not around the plant.

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