Ling Ao 4 Starts Up While Sanmen Gets First AP1000 Reactor Vessel

In China this August, as Ling Ao Unit 4—the second unit of the Ling Ao Phase II nuclear plant—started commercial operation, Westinghouse and its consortium partners marked the milestone of receiving the reactor vessel for the Sanmen nuclear power plant—the world’s first AP1000—in China’s Zhejiang province.

The start-up of Ling Ao Unit 4 in Guangdong province means that more than 50% of China’s total units in operation are at the Daya Bay Ling Ao complex. Like Ling Ao Unit 3, which began commercial operation last September, Unit 4 also started up before schedule to help meet the region’s surging energy needs.

Built by Alstom and its long-established Chinese partner, Dongfang Electric Corp., the plant uses a CPR-1000, an “improved Chinese pressurized water reactor” technology based on an AREVA-derived three-loop design (Figure 2). Alstom said in a statement that of all four units in the Ling Ao nuclear plant, Unit 4 enjoys the highest localization rate. Key components include a GIGATOP 4 pole turbogenerator, moisture separator reheater, the condenser and the low pressure heater, and Alstom’s ARABELLE half-speed steam turbine, which is compatible with several reactor types.

2. Made in China. The second reactor of the Ling Ao Phase II nuclear plant started commercial operation in August. Courtesy: Alstom

Some 700 miles northeast, in China’s Zhejiang province, Westinghouse and consortium partners the Shaw Group, State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. (SNPTC), and Sanmen Nuclear Power Co. received the first AP1000 nuclear reactor vessel from Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, which manufactured the reactor vessel in South Korea.

When installed in the Sanmen Unit 1 plant, the AP1000 reactor vessel will undergo installation and operational testing before starting commercial operation, which is planned for late 2013. Westinghouse said the vessel’s arrival is a key project milestone for the project. The second AP1000 unit at Sanmen is expected to come online in 2014, and two others under construction in Haiyang, in Shandong province, will start commercial operations between 2014 and 2015.

China’s nuclear building frenzy was paused after the Fukushima accident in Japan this March until the China Nuclear Energy Association completed mandatory safety inspections of existing nuclear plants in the country in August. Its reactor building program is now expected to continue at full steam. The country, which has 14 reactors already operating and 28 reactors under construction, has ambitious goals to raise nuclear capacity to 40 GW by 2015 from the current 11.88 GW.

Many of China’s future builds will be AP1000 designs, though all will be built by SNPTC under a technology transfer agreement negotiated between the state-owned company and Westinghouse.

Westinghouse may get an overhaul of its own. In September, Louisiana-based engineering firm the Shaw Group exercised its option to sell its 20% stake in Westinghouse to Toshiba for $1.6 billion, forcing the Japanese firm to raise its holdings to 87%. The companies had bought Westinghouse from the British government for $5.6 billion in 2006. Kazatamprom and IHI hold 10% and 3% stakes in Westinghouse, respectively.

Shaw has said it will continue to work on projects with Toshiba and Westinghouse building new AP1000 reactors in the U.S. (six are under contract, including at Southern Co.’s $14 billion Vogtle expansion in Georgia) and at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites in China. Toshiba, which intends to continue pushing sales of the AP1000 in countries like the UK, India, and Brazil, is reportedly considering new engineering partners for future projects, however, and it could invite new investors into Westinghouse. “Several companies” have already expressed interest, it has said. Shaw will likely focus on upgrading the output of existing nuclear plants.

3. The first AP1000 reactor vessel. Westinghouse and consortium partners received the first AP1000 reactor vessel for the twin-unit Sanmen power plant under construction in China’s Zhejiang province. The vessel weighs about 340 tons, is 12.2 meters (40 feet) long, and measures about 4.5 meters in diameter. Two other AP1000 pressurized water reactors are under construction in Haiyang, in Shandong province. Courtesy: State Nuclear Power Technology Corp.

“Westinghouse continues to believe that the future of the nuclear energy industry is robust, and that a significant number of additional new construction projects around the world will be announced over the next few years,” said Dr. Aris S. Candris, president and CEO of Westinghouse. “To further ensure that we are able to maintain our leadership role in the successful deployment of new plants, and to fulfill the expectations of our customers and other stakeholders, we will continue to identify additional partners and suppliers, including local construction companies with which we can partner while maintaining our collaborative relationship with the Power Group at Shaw to capture and share best practices.”

—Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.