China’s New Evolutionary Pressurized Nuclear Reactor Goes Online!
Written by Darrell Proctor
Unit 1 at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China is a milestone for nuclear technology. It is the world’s first operational EPR, or Evolutionary Power Reactor, to enter service.
It illustrates cooperation between France and China, using the lessons learned from earlier projects and providing a roadmap for future reactor construction.
The nuclear power industry is a global enterprise. Construction of a nuclear plant today requires cooperation from a number of companies involved in reactor technology, along with a range of contractors experienced in nuclear plant design.
Government support is crucial, not only from lawmakers and regulators where the plant is sited, but also from those in countries from which nuclear technology may be imported. National and international atomic energy agencies also are involved.
The planning behind the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Taishan, Guangdong province, in China was no different. Support from many groups was required to move the project from its early stage—excavation work for the plant began in 2008—to commercial operation, which occurred when the 1,750-MW capacity Unit 1 came online a decade later, in December 2018.
Bringing the plant online was a milestone for nuclear technology. The EPR is a third-generation pressurized water reactor design, a technology initially developed by France-based Électricité de France (EDF) and its Framatome subsidiary. (Germany-based Siemens was also part of the original design group for the EPR before ending its nuclear operations.)
Bringing Taishan online (Figure 1) was a triumph for EDF and Framatome, as well as China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). The Taishan project is led by Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. (TNPJVC), a joint venture founded by CGN (51% ownership stake), EDF (30%), and Chinese utility Guangdong Energy Group (19%), also known as Yuedian. Earlier EPR units, at projects at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France, have yet to come online, as construction of those nuclear plants has repeatedly been delayed. EDF recently said the first of two EPRs at its Hinkley Point C project in the UK could be completed in 2025.
How did Taishan reach the finish line first? The project principals told POWER they want to “stress the fact that the Taishan EPR is a Franco-Chinese project. Both the strength of the Chinese industry and the knowledge of the EPR technology of French nuclear leaders EDF and Framatome allowed the Taishan project to go faster, according to the highest standards of safety and quality.”
The project managers in China told POWER: “It is a real advantage to start after one or two projects,” noting that “Taishan benefited from the experience of all EPR sites around the world. Many good practices were identified in Flamanville 3, and Taishan benefited from this feedback. It has become a real win-win partnership. EDF with its Framatome subsidiary brought EPR technology [reactor design and all studies] as well as Flamanville 3 feedback, a key factor in Taishan’s success.”
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