Chinaview.cn published a story on February 26, 2008 titled China starts excavation for world’s first 3rd-generation nuclear plant. The plant is the first of four reactors whose order was initially announced in December, 2006. At the time, Steve Tritch, who was serving as Westinghouse president described the Chinese position during the negotiations as “very demanding”.
Based on the way that the project has been described in the Chinese press, it is becoming more apparent why Mr. Tritch chose those words.
The No. 1 reactor in Sanmen nuclear power plant will use the third-generation AP1000 technology, which was transferred from the U.S.-based Westinghouse Consortium. It has never been used in any operating power plant previously, said Zhao Hong, a State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. (SNPTC) engineer.
“The excavation started one month earlier than the original plan thanks to the support from all sides,” Zhao said, adding concrete pouring would start in March 2009.
Sanmen Nuclear Power Corp. (SNPC) will install six AP1000 nuclear generating units, each with a power capacity of 1.25 million kilowatts, before eventually becoming self-sufficient in the AP1000 technology.
The excavation marked China’s first step to build the most advanced nuclear power plant in the world, and China would play a leading role in the nuclear technology once the project was finished, said Kennon Hess, director of the Joint Project Management Organization (JPMO), which was formed by SNPTC, SNPC and Westinghouse Consortium.
During the learning process, there will be a lot of work done by Westinghouse employees all around the world. Though it seems a long time into the future from the perspective of many American businessmen, that work will eventually dry up as the customer becomes a competitive supplier. From the point of view of a Chinese businessman with the support of the Chinese government, that time will be acceptably short.
If I had a lot of time on my hands, it would be fun to dig through some old budget documents to find out just how much American taxpayer money was spent on the design and initial licensing process for the AP1000. Scratch that, it would not be fun; the final answer would put me into a serious funk.