Government-run China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is ready to put its new third-generation reactor known as the Hualong One into “bulk construction”, the company’s vice-president Yu Peigen said on Wednesday.
The dome for the fifth reactor at Fuqing is lifted on Thursday morning. /CNNC Photo
Speaking at a briefing to mark the installation of the dome at the world’s first Hualong One unit at Fuqing in southeastern coastal Fujian province, Yu said there was still a lot of room for China’s nuclear capacity to grow and the company was ready to put the home-grown reactor design into mass production.
“As the Hualong One demonstration project makes smooth progress, we have already made preparations to go into bulk construction,” he said.
Officials with the company’s listed unit, China National Nuclear Power, said earlier this year that more reactors had to be approved and built to create economies of scale for the sector, which had lost its competitive edge in recent years as a result of lower coal prices.
Third-generation reactors are larger and considered safer than their predecessors, but the new designs have been subject to lengthy delays in China and elsewhere. The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), a third-generation unit designed by Areva, has been beset with technological problems and cost overruns, but the world’s first is now expected to be completed early next year in Taishan in southeast China.
The world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 unit, another third-generation reactor being built at Sanmen on China’s eastern coast, is expected to go into full commercial operation in the first quarter of 2018, nearly four years behind the original schedule.
Yu said China hoped to break what he called the “curse” of delays facing third-generation designs.
The Hualong One was conceived as a flagship Chinese brand to promote overseas, and was based on separate designs by CNNC and its rival, China General Nuclear Power (CGN).
CGN is building its own version of the Hualong One at Fangchenggang in China’s southwest, the design of which will be used as a “reference” for a future project in Bradwell in southeast England. The technology is currently undergoing a five-year approval process by British regulators.