A Busy Summer for New Nuclear Power Plants

Several new nuclear plants around the world marked important milestones over the summer. Among notable projects are those that began second units of new third-generation reactor designs—such as the EPR, APR1400, and ACPR-1000—and the Akademik Lomonosov, the world’s first floating nuclear plant.

1. CGN, EDF, and Framatome announced Taishan 2’s commercial operating status on Sept. 7, 2019, after the reactor completed 168 hours of continuous operations. Taishan 2 follows Taishan 1 as the second EPR reactor in operation around the world. Courtesy: Taishan Nuclear Plant JVC

World’s Second EPR Begins Operation. Unit 2 at the Taishan nuclear power plant in China’s Guangdong province entered commercial operation on Sept. 7, following statutory functional testing of continuous operation at full power for 168 hours (Figure 1). The milestone ends the 11-year-long project to build the two 1,750-MW EPR reactors at the Taishan nuclear plant by Taishan Nuclear Plant JVC, a joint-venture founded by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN, 51%), French power company EDF (30%), and Chinese utility Guangdong Energy Group (19%). The EDF Group and its subsidiary Framatome supplied the EPR technology for the plant. According to EDF, the project capitalized on “35 years of strategic cooperation between EDF and CGN, as well as operating experience from the Flamanville 3 EPR and the complementarity between the French and Chinese nuclear sectors.”

Taishan 1 began construction in 2009 followed by Taishan 2 in 2010. But Taishan 2’s start date came nine months after Taishan 1 came online in December 2018. EDF said that Taishan 1 has achieved “excellent operational results” since it was commissioned. It noted that experience acquired through the first reactor helped the companies reduce the period between fuel loading and entry into commercial operation by three months.

“The Taishan project is providing EPR reactors around the world with its experience in project management and technological expertise,” EDF said. “The first reactors to benefit from this experience are the two Hinkley Point C units currently being built in the UK. [The French and Chinese] companies are also partners in the Sizewell C EPR project, as well as in the Bradwell B project, which is based on Hualong technology.”

Another EPR under construction, Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, is scheduled to begin commercially generating power in July 2020, though grid connection is expected in April 2020, owner Teollisuuden Voima Oyj said in July.

South Korea Starts Up Shin Kori 4. On Aug. 29, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Co. began commercial operation of its Shin Kori 4 nuclear reactor, a 1.4-GW unit located near the southeastern city of Busan. The reactor is the second in the nation to use the domestically designed APR1400 model, though four others (Shin Kori 5 and 6, and Shin Hanul 1 and 2) are under construction in South Korea, and another four are under construction at the Barakah site in the United Arab Emirates. With the start of Shin Kori 4, South Korea now has 25 nuclear reactors, which provide about a third of the country’s needs. Eight South Korean reactors remained offline in mid-September, though the Korea Nuclear Safety and Security Commission gave Hanbit 6 approval to restart after maintenance.

The Second ACPR-1000 Begins Operation. Twenty-five years after Daya Bay, China’s first gigawatt-level commercial nuclear plant, began operation, the country put online its twenty-third power reactor—Yangjiang 6, the country’s second 1,000-MW ACPR1000.

The reactor began operation on June 29 after a series of commissioning tests, including a load test run and a demonstration run lasting 168 hours, and it joins five other reactors at its site in Guangdong province. Units 1 to 4 are CPR-1000s that began operating between March 2015 and March 2017, and Unit 5 became the world’s first ACPR1000 when it came online in July 2018. The ACPR1000 design is based on China’s CPR-1000 technology, which is in turn a “significantly upgraded version” of the 900-MW French M310 three-loop technology imported for the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in the 1980s, according to the World Nuclear Association. While Framatome retains intellectual property for the CPR-1000, the ACPR1000 has full Chinese intellectual property rights.

Third VVER-1200 Completes Pilot Operation. On July 31, Rosatom announced Unit 2 at the Novovoronezh Phase II power plant in Voronezh Oblast, central Russia, had been brought to full capacity. Tests continue on the new power unit, and it is scheduled to begin commercial operation in late 2019. Novovoronezh II-2 will be the third VVER-1200 to be commissioned, following Novovoronezh II-1 and Leningrad II-1, which began operating in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Floating Nuclear Power Plant Arrives at Final Destination. The 70-MWe and 58-MWth Akademik Lomonosov—the world’s first purpose-built floating nuclear power plant—on Aug. 23 set sail for its final destination in Pevek, Chukotka, in Russia’s Far East, where it will provide power to mining projects as a replacement for the retiring Chaunskaya fossil fuel power plant and the Bilibino nuclear power plant. Grid-connection is expected before year-end, marking the end of a lengthy development period for the first-of-its-kind reactor. Keel laying took place in May 2009 at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg, and the 220-tonne steam generating units, each including one KLT-40S reactor from OKBM Afrikantov, were installed in October 2013.

2. The floating power unit Akademik Lomonosov arrived at the port of its permanent location in Pevek, Chukotka, in Russia’s Far East, on Sept. 14, where it is being docked to start operations by the end of this year. Courtesy: Rosatom

In May 2018, the vessel completed the first leg of its journey when it was towed 4,000 kilometers (km), around Finland and Sweden, to Murmansk for fuel loading, which was completed in October 2018. First criticality was achieved in November 2018. In August, it set sail on the second leg of its journey, towed by two tugboats to the Arctic port town of Pevek, a distance of 4,700 km. Rosatom reported on Sept. 14 that it arrived safely (Figure 2).

While the journey had caused concern—especially from environmental groups, like Greenpeace, which has called it the “nuclear Titanic”—Rosatom said in a statement that the project has already sparked interest from countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. “Rosatom is currently working on second-generation FPUs, i.e. Optimized Floating Power Units (OFPUs), which will be built in a series and be available for export,” it noted.

—Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor.