21 May 2021


Two More Nuclear Reactor Construction‑Starts in China

Simultaneous construction start of two Russian-designed reactors in China. The event perfectly illustrates the current world nuclear market situation: China builds at home, Russia abroad. No further big players around.

WNISR, 21 May 2021

Russia’s President Putin in video-link with Chinese President Xi launching the construction of two Russian reactors in China.

China began construction 19 May 2021 of two Russian VVER-1200 reactors, with the start of concrete basemat-pouring for Tianwan-7 and Xudabao-3.

Construction start was attended via video link by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which elevated the event to a symbolic political gesture. Reactor design and major equipment is to be supplied by Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom, while construction is the responsibility of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). Construction start on Tianwan-8 and Xudabao-4, also VVER-1200 design, is expected later this year.

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

According to Rosatom, Tianwan units 7 & 8 are scheduled to “be commissioned in 2026-2027.” In April 2021, China’s state council approved construction start of the two reactors. They are located at Lianyungang on the Yellow Sea coast of Jiangsu province, in eastern China, and are to be operated by CNNC.

A June-2019-agreement between CNNC and Rosatom committed to the construction of Xudabao units 3 & 4, which are located at Huludao, in northeast China’s Liaoning province. Rosatom’s machine-building division AEM Technology will manufacture and deliver two VVER-1200 reactor pressure vessels, two sets of steam generators, reactor coolant pump sets, main circulation piping bodies and two pressurizers.

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 claims that, "They are absolutely safe in operation and fully meet the IAEA’s post-Fukushima requirements,” and that they fully take into account lessons learned.

With construction start at Tianwan and Xudabao there are now 19 units under construction in China. Worldwide, this brings the total to 52 reactors under construction.