26 February 2022


Russian Nuclear Industry Starts Nuclear Reactor Construction in China—Anyways

WNISR, 26 February 2022

Construction of the Tianwan-8 reactor, a Russian VVER-1200 design, began 25 February 2022 with the pouring of base mat concrete. Located in Lianyungang City on the Yellow Sea coast of Jiangsu province in eastern China, six reactors are currently operating at the site, and according to Russian state nuclear company, Rosatom, Tianwan units 7 and 8, now both under construction, are scheduled to “be commissioned in 2026-2027.” The Tianwan plant is owned and operated by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation, a joint venture between CNNC (50%), China Power Investment Corporation (30%) and the Jiangsu Guoxin Group (20%).

Russia’s President Putin in video-link with Chinese President Xi launching the construction of two Russian reactors, including Tianwan-7, in China in May 2021

Described by Chinese nuclear officials as, “a model project of Sino-Russian nuclear energy cooperation”, construction start of Tianwan-7 in May 2021 had been initiated in a joint virtual ceremony with Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin declared that Tianwan and general cooperation between the two nations on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, “marks a significant part of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between the two countries.”

Tianwan units 1-4 are Russian-origin VVER-1000 design, while units 5 and 6 are both ACPR-1000 design, a more advanced version of China General Nuclear Corporation’s (CGN) Generation II CPR-1000 and the CNNC’s ACP-1000 design. Tianwan-6 was connected to the grid on 11 May 2021. In April 2021, China’s state council approved construction start of Tianwan-7 and -8, both of which will be Russian supplied VVER1200 design.

Under a contract signed in March 2019, Rosatom is designing the Tianwan nuclear island and supplying key equipment as well as the nuclear fuel.

The first independent assessment of the VVER 1200 design—for the Ostrovets plant in Belarus—was completed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in June 2018. ENSREG concluded that there were significant issues related to the design and safety systems. The assessment of ENSREG contrasts with Rosatom’s view that, “They are absolutely safe in operation and fully meet the IAEA’s post-Fukushima requirements,” and that they would fully take into account lessons learned.

According to a 2012-survey of local public opinion, a majority (54%) expressed opposition to building nuclear reactors at Tianwan due to safety concerns, and concluded that, “The public concerns about nuclear energy’s impact are widespread. The level of awareness and acceptance of nuclear power needs to be improved urgently.”

There are now 20 reactors under construction in China.