China Begins Operation of First CPR-1000

The first unit of Ling Ao phase II (Unit 3) in Guangdong Province, China, entered commercial operation in late September. The 1,080-MW reactor is the first CPR-1000—a Chinese design—to be built, and its start-up marks a major milestone in the country’s concerted nuclear power expansion.

Construction kicked off in 2005, and the unit—China’s 12th reactor—began operation earlier than scheduled (Figure 2). With the first of 157 fuel assemblies loaded into the reactor this April, the unit achieved first criticality in June and was connected to the grid in July. By this September, the unit had completed 168 hours of trial operation with an average capacity factor of 92%. Work on the second unit of phase II (Unit 4) is reportedly in full swing, and that unit is expected to come online in 2011. Once operational, Ling Ao phase II is expected to become the largest nuclear power plant in Guangdong, China’s most populous—and most prosperous—province.

2. Keeping the home fires burning. China in September officially started operations at the first unit of Ling Ao phase II (Unit 3). The first of many planned CPR-1000s, the 1,080-MW reactor reportedly cost under 10,000 yuan per kilowatt (US$1,500). In accordance with China’s “self-reliance” policies, more than 50% of its equipment was locally sourced. Courtesy: Alstom

The unit features a turbine generator package from Alstom, built in partnership with China’s Dongfang Electric Corp. (DECL), for its owner, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. (CGNPC). Developed in accordance with a national “self-reliance” policy, however, the bulk of the project’s management, engineering, surveillance, and construction services were locally sourced, and more than 50% of its equipment was manufactured domestically. More than 70% of Unit 4’s components will be made in China.

The CPR-1000 is an “improved Chinese pressurized water reactor” technology based on an AREVA-derived three-loop design. Constructed by Sichuan-based DECL, the Generation II+ designated reactor features digital instrumentation and controls and a 60-year design life, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA). The Ling Ao unit is the largest one planned, both in terms of capacity and size, and it is the most advanced in technology, efficiency, and automation requirements, Dongfang Chief Engineer Wang Weimin said in September. Under CGNPC’s leadership, the reactor will be widely deployed for domestic use—33 reactors are already in the construction or planning stages. According to the WNA, the reactor, which was built in 52 months, cost under 10,000 yuan per kilowatt (US$1,500). But it won’t likely be sold abroad, mainly because AREVA-owned intellectual property rights pose constraints, the organization says.

The unit’s start-up has pushed China’s generation capacity to more than 900 million kW. Zhang Ping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, recently pointed out in an interview with state-run news agency Xinhua this September that the country’s generation capacity in 2005, by comparison, stood at just 500 million kW. Hailing Ling Ao’s start-up as a major achievement, Zhang also noted that, although China has cut capacity at small thermal power plants by 71 million kW to reduce emissions, the country now leads the world in hydropower capacity, at about 200 million kW. It also has a burgeoning renewables industry, with 22 million kW of wind power capacity.

Meanwhile, statistics from the National Energy Administration show that the country’s power consumption continues to mushroom, reaching 397.5 billion kWh in August, up 14.69% year on year. Nuclear power will meet a bulk of future demand, the government expects. Official targets have been increasing: In June 2010, government figures had nuclear capacity increasing to 80 GW from the current 10 GW by 2020, to 200 GW by 2030, and to 400 GW by 2050. State-owned China National Nuclear Corp. alone plans to invest 800 billion yuan (US$120 billion) in nuclear projects by 2020, reported the China Daily in September.
Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.