The world’s first AP1000 power reactor (developed by US-based Westinghouse) was connected to the grid at Sanmen in China and generated electricity for the first time on Saturday 30th June. This came a day after the world’s first EPR (developed by France’s Framatome) was connected at Taishan, also in China. The official start of electricity production from these two advanced reactors marks the beginning of a new chapter for the global nuclear industry. It is also a proud day for China’s burgeoning nuclear sector and testimony to the rich benefits of international cooperation in nuclear innovation.
World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising noted, “Having two new reactors start producing electricity in two days is great news for the climate and sustainable development. Having two brand new advanced reactor designs connected to the grid is great news for nuclear innovation. It’s a major industry development which should lead to a brightening of global nuclear prospects.”
Across the world there are many countries which are planning to renew and expand their existing fleet of nuclear reactors while others are making progress towards introducing nuclear energy for the first time. As countries consider which technology to select it is important for reactor vendors to be able to point to a fully commissioned reference plant as evidence of a tested, quality product.
Rising continued, “In just two days a lot of reliable clean electricity has come online in China. Countries which are seeking to reduce their CO2 emissions and improve energy access will no doubt follow the progress of these new nuclear technologies with keen interest.”
China is expected to authorise the construction of six to eight reactors this year, and is likely to make further announcements soon now that the first AP1000 and EPR reactors are complete. It recently signed a major deal with Russia for four new reactors, following the completion of the VVER-1000 at Tianwan in January. In other major nuclear export news India recently announced a strategic cooperation agreement with France for the construction of 6 EPRs at Jaitapur.
For China, the grid connection of these two advanced reactor designs is proof of its commitment to nuclear energy and its strong desire to learn from more experienced countries. Chinese scientists and engineers have worked closely with foreign partners – especially France and the USA – in developing their own reactor designs such as the HPR1000 and CAP 1400.
“The Chinese people should be proud of their nuclear sector which continues to improve industry performance and develop its own range of advanced technologies”, noted Rising.
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