19 October 2019

China: First Commercial Reactor Construction‑Start in Three Years

China: First Commercial Reactor Construction-Start in Three Years

WNISR, 18 October 2019

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), on 16 October 2019, announced the construction start of Zhangzhou-1, a Hualong or HPR-1000 design. Phase 1 of the project at Zhangzhou, located in south east China’s Fuijan province, was originally planned to be based on two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. However, as reported by Reuters, citing a Chinese energy academic, “the problem with AP1000—the delays, the design changes, the supply chain issues and then the trade problems—has forced their hand, and it has become Hualong”.

The Hualong is based on the CGN ACPR-1000 design, a more advanced version of China General Nuclear Corporation’s (CGN) Generation II CPR-1000 and the China National Nuclear Corporation’s ACP-1000 designs. The plant is owned by CNNC-Guodian Zhangzhou Energy Company, which is CNNC (51 percent) and China Guodian Corporation (49 percent).

This is the first new construction start for the Hualong design reactor—and the first construction start of any commercial reactor—since 23 December 2016, when CGN began building unit 4 of the Fangchenggang nuclear power plant. It brings to five the number of Hualong-design reactors under construction in China.

In February 2017, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) approved a program of eight new reactors, yet it was only in June 2019 that the NEA authorized construction of two Hualong units at Zhangzhou.

With the latest construction start, a total of 11 reactors are now under construction in China. This is significantly below the figure of 16 in 2017, and of 20 in 2016. This new-build decline is a clear demonstration of the slowdown of the Chinese nuclear power program (see Reactors “Under Construction” in WNISR2019).

With currently 45.5 GW in operation and 10 GW under construction, China will be far from achieving its 5-year target of 58 GW operating and 30 GW under construction as of 2020.