Unit 5 at the Tianwan nuclear power plant, an ACPR-1000 under construction in China’s Jiangsu province, achieved first criticality on July 27, said Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corp., the plant’s owner and operator.

According to China National Nuclear Power Corporation (CNNC), China’s giant state-owned nuclear generator and fuel manufacturer which is building the reactor, first fuel loading at the unit was completed on July 9, two days after China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration issued a 40-year operating license for the reactor. 

The unit 5 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant completes its first fuel loading on July 9. Courtesy: CNNC

Development at Tianwan, which CNNC said has become “an important clean energy base in East China,” began nearly two decades ago. The plant already houses four AES-91 VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Units 1 and 2 began commercial operation in 2007, with Units 3 and 4 coming online in 2018. 

Construction on Unit 5 began at the end of December 2015, while Unit 6 started construction in September 2016. Both are domestically developed ACPR-1000 PWRs, each rated at 1,080 MW. 

The ACPR-1000 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—one of China’s first nuclear plants built on the mainland, according to the World Nuclear Association. Today, mainland China has more than 40 nuclear power reactors in operation, and about 20 under construction. The technologies stem from China’s drive to domestically fabricate and supply nuclear fuel assemblies and plant equipment. 

China’s first reactor adopting the domestically developed evolutionary third-generation design wrapped up trial operation at the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Plant and began operation in July 2018. The project was a POWER Top Plant in 2019 because the first-of-its-kind reactor was built within a mere 58 months. ACPR-1000s are also under construction at Hongyanhe Units 5 and 6.

Tianwan nuclear power plant is located in Lianyungang, in East China’s Jiangsu province. Courtesy: CNNC

Units 7 and 8 will be Gidropress  VVER-1200 PWRs supplied by Russia under a general contract signed in March 2019 by AtomStroyExport, the engineering division of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, and CNNC.

Grid connection at Tianwan 5 is expected later this year, after which the unit will enter commercial operation.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).