7 November 2014

Fangjiashan‑1 in China Connected to the Grid

Grid connection was confirmed by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on 4 November 2014 for the CPR-1000 reactor at the Fangjiashan plant in China’s eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. Construction began on 26 December 2008 and startup took place with a delay of almost one year compared to the originally planned grid connection in December 2013. A second reactor is under construction at the site and is now planned to begin operations in October 2015, one year after the original startup date. The project an expansion of the Qinshan nuclear plant, is 72% owned by CNNC, with the remainder held by Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group Co Ltd.

The CPR-1000 Fangjiashan is a Generation II reactor which has been the focus of concerns over their vintage design with resultant safety implications. Described as obsolete by the U.S. Government, diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 reported that “by bypassing the passive safety technology of the AP1000, which, according to Westinghouse, is 100 times safer than the CPR-1000, China is vastly increasing the aggregate risk of its nuclear power fleet”. The then chair of the Atomic Energy Commission in France described the design as not meeting key safety criteria in particular “because it doesn’t have a double protective shell surrounding the reactor building”. In 2012 the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection acknowledged safety concerns in China’s fleet of nuclear reactors. The Fangjiashan reactor is a modified version of the Framatome CPO/CP1/CP2 series of 900 MW reactors, which were built in France between 1971 and 1987 (34 units in total).

There are currently an additional 16 CPR-1000 reactors under construction, the most prolific of any one design under construction worldwide.