After a 168-hour test run, Unit 1 of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) became the world’s first Gen-III European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) eligible for commercial operation at 5 pm on Dec 13.
This was announced by CGN and Electricite de France (EDF) at a press conference of the State Council Information Office on Dec 14.
Gao Ligang, chairman of CGN Power Co Ltd, Guo Limin, general manager of Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co Ltd, and EDF Vice President Fu Kaide attended the press conference and took questions from the media.
The Taishan NPP is located in Chixi town, Taishan. Phase I of the NPP, built and operated by Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co Ltd, is the largest-ever energy-related cooperative project between China and France and has the largest installed unit capacity.
The two 1,750MWe units of Taishan NPP Phase I feature Gen-III EPR technology co-developed by EDF and Framatome. The technology has benefited from the global operational experience and technical progress of the pressurized water reactor (PWR) nuclear power units over the past 40 years. The major technology has endured testing on the currently operational 357 PWR nuclear power units. It not only meets the European Utility Requirements and the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but is also complies with Chinese regulations on nuclear safety.
Construction on Unit 1 and 2 began in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The former began fuel loading on April 10 and was connected to the grid on June 29 before beginning commercial operation on Dec 13.
Once the two units become operational, they are expected to reduce coal consumption by 8.03 million tons and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 21.09 million tons, the equivalent of planting 58,500 hectares of forest.
According to Guo, the secret to why Unit 1 is able to the world’s first Gen-III EPR reactor lies in CGN’s experience in nuclear power construction and operation, the long-standing strategic partnership between China and France, and the help of experienced and capable professionals.
The introduction of EPR technology in the construction of the Taishan NPP was an important decision by the Chinese government based on the national energy strategy, and became a milestone in Sino-French energy cooperation. Heads of the two countries witnessed the signing of the cooperation agreement on Nov 26, 2007 and unveiled the plaque for Unit 1, the first EPR reactor in the world, on Jan 9, 2018.
Techniques used in the construction of Unit 1 will provide valuable experience and solutions for its global peers, including the Hinkely Point C (HPC) nuclear power project in the UK, said CGN Chairman He Yu.
According to EDF Chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy, Unit 1’s successful operation proves that the company is capable of developing safe and high-quality Gen-III nuclear technology. EPR technology offers a solution to the increasing demand for electricity without increasing carbon dioxide emissions.
This year marked the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up and Sino-French nuclear cooperation, which began with the construction of the first gigawatt-level commercial NPP in mainland China – the Daya Bay NPP. Deng Xiaoping, "designer-in-chief" of China's reform and opening-up, decided to buy two NPPs from France in 1978, which spurred the development of China’s large commercial NPP. The Daya Bay NPP, the largest Sino-foreign project in the early stage of reform and opening-up, is the defining project of the process.
In the 1990s, CGN ramped up its cooperation with France to build Ling Ao Phase I. Originally, less than 1 percent of Daya Bay NPP’s equipment was sourced from domestic companies. This number increased to 30 percent for LNPS I, as CGN intentionally purchased products from domestic equipment manufacturers.
CGN and EDF cooperated once again in the 21st century to build the Taishan NPP, which becomes the first EPR reactor in the world. The two companies signed an agreement on Oct 21, 2015 to undertake the Hinkley Point C (HPC), Sizewell C (SZC) and Bradwell B (BRB) projects in the UK.
According to Fu, the HPC project will cover an area the size of 245 football fields. There are 5,600 workers at the construction site every day during the peak period. The project will use a total of 3 million tons of concrete (75 times the amount that was used in the UK’s Millennium Stadium) and 230,000 tons of rebars (the same amount used to build a railway from London to Rome).
A suitable construction site is now being scouted for the Bradwell B project. HPR1000 technology has entered the third phase of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) carried out by Britain authorities. EDF has provided its full support throughout the process, taking advantage of its experience in the British nuclear power market.
Gao pointed out that cooperation in nuclear power is now a key part of China’s opening up, especially with France. Sino-French cooperation has proved fruitful over the past four decades and is expected to continue pushing forward the development of clean energy in the two counties.
China General Nuclear Power Corporation is a large company dedicated to developing clean energy and environmentally-friendly industries. It owns 22 operational nuclear power units with a total installation capacity of over 24.3 GW, and six under-construction nuclear power units with an installation capacity of 7.43 GW. It adheres to a “4+X” industrial model with coordinated development in nuclear power, nuclear fuel, new energy, finance and emerging industries.
The company now has 41,000 employees and a total of nearly 700 billion yuan ($102 billion) in assets. It has maintained double-digit growth for the past several years.
EDF is a leading enterprise in energy transformation. As an integrated energy company, its business scope encompasses all power-related industries, including power generation, transmission, distribution, wholesale energy trading, energy marketing and energy services. Also considered a global leader in low-carbon energy, the group has developed a diversified power structure based on nuclear power, hydropower and new energy. The company provides energy and relevant services to 35.1 million people worldwide. In 2017, it earned 69.6 billion euros in revenue.
Framatone is a leader in the international nuclear energy market and is known for providing innovative solutions and value-added services for the design, construction, maintenance, upgrading and transformation of nuclear reactors. The company also provides comprehensive nuclear services, including the design, manufacture and installation of nuclear power plant’s major equipment, fuel and instrument & control. EDF holds 75.5 percent of Framatome's shares, making it the controlling shareholder.