Nuclear plant output in China poised for rapid increases in 2018-2020
The last two days in June 2018 saw the first power generation from two separate first of a kind nuclear plants in China. Taishan 1, a 1650 MWe European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) was connected to the grid at 5:59 pm local time on June 29, 2018. Less than 24 hours later, at 4:48 pm local time, Sanmen 1, a Westinghouse AP1000 rated at 1117 MWe was connected to the grid and began producing power for the first time.
Both of these milestones were substantially later than originally planned when their initial contracts were signed in November 2007 and September 2007 respectively. All members of the large teams that powered through challenges and contradicted naysayers deserve to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job done well, even if not done as quickly as all would have liked.
When construction began on Sanmen 1 in 2009, it was the world’s first AP1000 to reach that milestone. It is the first unit of a four reactor order for a consortium of Chinese utility companies; all three subsequent units are currently on track to begin commercial operation by the end of 2019. Sanmen 1 received its fuel loading permit on April 25 and began loading fuel on the same day. The second plant in the series, Haiyang 1 started loading fuel on June 21. If it follows the same schedule as the lead unit, it should achieve initial criticality in early August and connect to the grid by the end of August. The other two units are approximately 6 months behind the lead units.
When Taishan 1 construction started in 2009, it was the third EPR, following Okliluto and Flammanville. China General Nuclear Power International (CGN) was less timid than the owners of those two single unit projects; it decided to purchase and construct two units in a series on the same site. Fifty years worth of commercial nuclear plant experience indicates that two unit sites have better overall economics than single unit.
Both by incorporating early lessons from the first two EPR projects and being able to build on more recent nuclear plant construction and oversight experience, Taishan 1 overtook and passed the two EPRs that were started several years earlier to become the world’s first EPR to produce useful power.
When all six reactors are completed and operating, they will add more than 7.7 GWe in nuclear generating capacity to the Chinese grid. If they operate at a capacity factor of 80% they will generate a total of more than 54 billion kilowatt hours of emission-free electricity each year.
There’s still a lot of work to be done and operating experience to gain, but it’s nice to be able to note such important milestones.
Love to hear that. Why wasn’t that on the news?
Probably because the media is in the tank for the fossil-fuel interests, and good news about nuclear power is something they don’t want the public to hear.
It made the BBC News (and other news outlets in the UK) because we’re building an EPR Hinkley Point C and have another in plan for Sizewell C. The news coverage was generally positive.
I’m old enough to remember the “3 day week” where due to electricity shortages caused by a coal miner’s strike and the oil crisis, commercial users were limited to 3 days use per week. We also had candles for the rolling power cuts.
Energy security is something UK governments of all colours have taken seriously since then.
Should perhaps be noted that TVO did want to build (and had a permit) for the next plant after Olkiluoto 3 EPR, with EPR being one of the candidates.
However, with delays in commissioning of OL3, they did not have the cash flow to start OL4 Project and the decision in principle they had expired in 2015.
Wow thats outstanding. Cant believe it wasn’t all over the news.
China is only around 1/6th of US’s Nuclear Energy. And 1/3rd of the US per capita electricity usage.
Give it time. Especially with China turning them on and the US turing them off.
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