China Is Readying a 60-MW Floating Nuclear Power Plant

China, which is seeing a nuclear plant boom with 30 reactors already in operation and 24 under construction, is accelerating development of its first 60-MWe (200-MWt) floating nuclear reactor.

China General Nuclear Group (CGN) on January 12 confirmed that the ACPR50S reactor project (Figure 6) has been approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan for innovative energy technologies. At NRDC’s urging that CGN “speed up [the] pace of technological innovation and accelerate the [research and development] process,” the company was already carrying out “preliminary work” for a demonstration project, it said.

Floating Nuclear Power Plant

6. Floating a concept. The ACPR50S, a small modular reactor (SMR) for offshore use shown here, is being developed in tandem with the 450-MWt ACPR100, an onshore SMR that China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) envision deploying in industrial parks and remote mountain areas. Courtesy: CGN

The company wants to develop the floating reactor for the supply of power, heat, and desalination for use on islands or coastal areas, or for offshore oil and gas exploration. Construction on the reactor could begin as early as next year, with power generation beginning in 2020.

If all goes well, CGN’s floating reactor could launch in half the time taken to build the 70-MWe Academic Lomonosov, Russia’s flagship floating reactor, whose construction was begun in 2007 in St. Petersburg. According to a timeline provided in April 2015, the Russian floating plant based on the atomic engines powering icebreaker ships will be ready in October 2016.

In November 2015, meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry ordered a pilot of low-powered nuclear reactors that could be mounted on tracked vehicles or sledged platforms for use in the Arctic region. That pilot may be ready in 2020.

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor.