China: First Grid Connection Worldwide of Reactor With Post-3/11 Construction Start
Grid connection of Yangjiang unit 4, located at Dongping Town, Yangjiang City in western Guangdong Province, took place on 8 January 2017, according to plant owner China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN). Construction start of the unit 4, which is a CPR-1000 design with a nominal capacity of 1086 MWe, began on 17 November 2012. Yanjiang-4 is the first reactor in the world to start up, which began construction after the Fukushima disaster was triggered in March 2011. In total, work began on 34 reactors since 3/11, of which 15 in China (see interactive Global Nuclear Power Database).
Yangjiang-3 was connected to the grid on 18 October 2015. In total, six units are slated to be built at the site, Yangjiang Units 1-4 are of the CPR-1000 design, while Units 5 and 6 are ACPR-1000s.
Safety issues with the CPR-1000 design have been raised in recent years, including descriptions of it being obsolete, as it is based on a modified version of the Framatome 900 MW reactors, which were built in France between 1971 and 1987. In 2015 a senior member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences warned in relation to lessons being applied following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident: “There were internal discussions on upgrading standards in the past four years, but doing so would require a lot more investment which would affect the competitiveness and profitability of nuclear power... Nuclear energy costs are cheap because we lower our standards.”
The grid connection of Yangjiang unit 4 brings to 37 the number of reactors in operation in China, 18 of which are CPR-1000 design, and with 20 units under construction. Nine reactors are scheduled for startup in 2017.