13 August 2020

First Reactor Grid Connection in the World in 2020—in China

WNISR, 13 August 2020

The Tianwan Site
Photo: CNEC

The Tianwan reactor unit 5 was connected to the grid on 8 August 2020. Built and operated by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), commercial operation is scheduled for December this year. Tianwan is the first reactor to be connected to the grid in the world in 2020, and it is located in Jiangsu province on the Yellow Sea, eastern China. The one startup wordwide compares with three reactor closures (two in France, one in the U.S.) during the year so far.

Construction of Tianwan-5 began on 27 December 2015. Tianwan is a ACPR-1000 design, a more advanced version of China General Nuclear Corporation’s (CGN) Generation II CPR-1000 and the CNNC ACP-1000 design. A second ACPR-1000, Tianwan-6 has been under construction since 7 September 2016 with commercial operation scheduled for October 2021.

In a 2012 survey of local public opinion, a 54-percent majority expressed opposition to building nuclear reactors at Tianwan due to safety concerns. Tianwan reactor units 1-4 are Russian-origin VVER-1000 design.

CGN stated that the ACPR contains at least ten design improvements over the CPR-1000, including a double containment and core catcher, making them a Gen-III design. However, questions remain as to the safety revisions incorporated into the ACPR-1000, the qualification of the design by Chinese regulators and how they compare with their international counterparts.

Design work on the ACPR-1000 began in 2009, prior to the Fukushima events. In mid-November 2011, CGN revealed the design of the ACPR-1000, including the claim that it had taken into account the “lessons of the Fukushima accident”. That affirmation appears questionable given that it was pronounced only eight months after the dramatic events started unfolding in Japan. Other countries, e.g. France, almost 10 years later, still struggle with the implementation of backfitting measures decided after 3/11. Further, the ACPR-1000 is reported to be in compliance with the domestic Code of Safety of Nuclear Power Plant Design, HAF102, which dates from 2004. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was requested to conduct a Generic Reactor Safety (GRS) review of the ACPR-1000 design-concept. This was completed in May 2013, but the results have not been published.