I missed this little story that was published in Forbes about a month ago – China to build two nuclear power plants in Shandong province – official. The story is only a couple of paragraphs long and it is quite short on details, but here are two that I found fascinating.
1. The plants will be pebble bed reactors.
2. The cost for two plants is estimated at $370 Million USD.
Notice that figure – it is a huge difference between that and the estimates of $2 billion or more for a single large pressurized or boiling water reactor.
I presume, from putting together bits of information that I found elsewhere, that the Chinese plants will produce about 150 MW each. They most likely will use helium circulated through the reactor core to heat water in steam generators. The South African leaders of the PBMR project think that demonstrates that the Chinese are a bit behind them – the South African design uses a direct cycle helium gas turbine. That design does not require steam generators and will probably achieve higher thermal efficiencies.
From my point of view, however, there is a lot that can be learned from simply building the reactors and operating them, even if the balance of the plant is not the ultimate in efficiency.