China’s Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) plans to start commercial operation of a nuclear reactor at the Ling Ao II nuclear power plant this October. The reactor will be the 12th to supply power to China. A second unit is set to begin operation in 2011.

Reports from China indicate the country plans to increase its nuclear capacity from the current 9 GW to at least 70 GW by 2020. A further increase to between 120 GW and 160 GW or more is planned by 2030.

Earlier this month, the reactor at the Ling Ao II nuclear power plant in southern China’s Guangdong province achieved criticality as the control rods were withdrawn from the core of the pressurized water reactor on schedule. CGNPC reported that all tests were conducted successfully to ensure the performance of the reactor as well as of instrumentation and monitoring systems.

The reactor will now move forward to a start-up at low power, followed by connection to the Guangdong province energy grid, then commissioning at full power, and finally the launch of commercial operations in October. The schedule has reportedly been brought forward from a previously announced launch date of June 2011.

This reactor is the third CPR-1000 to be built in China, developed from a French-derived design. The state-owned nuclear generator said in a statement on the website of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission that it will generate 15 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and bring China’s total nuclear capacity to 10 GW.

In a related story, Canadian uranium producer Cameco last week said it had signed an agreement with China’s largest nuclear generator, state-owned China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) for 23 million pounds of uranium concentrate under a long-term agreement through 2020. The agreement is the first for the company with a major Chinese utility, it said. CNNC operates seven reactors with a total capacity of 5,100 MW and has 10 reactors under construction, totaling 9,100 MW.

Sources: CGNPC