From Power Magazine

The world’s first AP1000 nuclear reactor—Sanmen 1 in China’s Zhejiang province—commenced 100%  power operation for the first time on August 11, China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) said.

Sanmen 1 was connected to the grid on June 30. Earlier this year, China also put online Unit 5 of the Yangjiang Nuclear Plant on May 23, and Taishan 1, an EPR, on June 29.

According to the China Nuclear Energy Industry Association, China now has a total of 38 nuclear power plants with a total installed capacity of 36.9 GW. In the first half of this year, China’s nuclear plants produced 4.07% of the country’s cumulative power generation of 1,618.26 TWh. Cumulative nuclear power generation surged 12.52% over the same period in 2017. The average utilization hours at Chinese nuclear power plants was 3,546.59 hours, at a rate of about 81.64%.

Sanmen 2, meanwhile, received regulatory approval for fuel loading on July 10 and is poised to come online at the end of this year. Two other AP1000 reactors under construction in Haiyang, in Shandong province, are also making progress. Haiyang 1 implemented first fuel loading on June 21, CNNC noted.

A Long-Awaited Milestone

Although AP1000 technology in China has made major strides toward quicker completion compared to sister projects originally spearheaded by Westinghouse Electric Co. in the U.S., Chinese AP1000 reactors have been beset by similar delays stemming from safety concerns and design changes.

Construction at the Sanmen project—envisioned as a six-unit, 7.5-GW plant—kicked off in April 2009. Sanmen 1 was originally scheduled to be completed in 2014, but it “encountered numerous challenges to its original construction timeline, including technology re-designs, faulty equipment manufacturing, hiccups in construction project management, and lengthy regulator-mandated safety reviews,” noted David Fishman at the Nicobar Group, a firm dedicated to research of the Chinese nuclear market.

At 2:10 pm on August 14, 2018, Sanmen Nuclear Power Unit 1 reached 100% full power for the first time.

At Haiyang, where first concrete was poured in September 2009, Unit 1 could come online in the fourth quarter of this year or early next year. Haiyang Unit 1 will become the first operating nuclear asset majority owned by State Nuclear Power Technology Co. (SNPTC), the state-owned company founded in 2007 and tasked with technology selection, and which has since transformed into a nuclear power business platform for state-owned holding company State Power Investment Corp.

According to a recent statement on CNNC’s website, SNPTC undertook the leading mission to develop China’s AP1000 projects. SNPTC has “overcome a number of difficulties in the designing, manufacturing and constructing of AP1000 PWR [pressurized water reactor] Technology Project. Finally, SNPTC turned AP1000 from the blueprint into practice,” it said.

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