China, Saudi Arabia agree to build HTR

20 January 2016

China and Saudi Arabia have signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR). It was one of 14 agreements and memoranda of understanding signed yesterday during a meeting in Riyadh of Chinese president Xi Jinping and Saudi's Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The signing of the MOU in Riyadh (Image: CNEC)

The MOU for cooperation in building the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor was signed by King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) president Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani and China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) chairman Wang Shu Jin. No details of the size of the plant or the project timeline were disclosed.

CNEC has been working with Tsinghua University since 2003 on the design, construction and commercialization of HTR technology. The partners signed a new agreement in March 2014 aimed at furthering cooperation in both international and domestic marketing of the advanced reactor technology.

In a statement today, CNEC said: "After 30 years of basic research, experimental reactor operation and demonstration projects, China has now systematically mastered all the key HTR technologies."

A demonstration HTR-PM unit under construction at Shidaowan near Weihai city in China's Shandong province. That plant will initially comprise twin HTR-PM reactor modules driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. Construction started in late 2012 and it is scheduled to start commercial operation in late 2017.

A proposal to construct two 600 MWe HTRs at Ruijin city in China's Jiangxi province passed a preliminary feasibility review in early 2015. The design of the Ruijin HTRs is based on the smaller Shidaowan demonstration HTR-PM. Construction of the Ruijin reactors is expected to start next year, with grid connection in 2021.

CNEC said it is actively promoting its HTR technology overseas and has already signed memoranda of understanding with Saudi Arabia, Dubai, South Africa "and other countries and regions" to consider the construction of HTR plants.

Although Saudi Arabia's nuclear program is in its infancy, the Kingdom has plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years. A 2010 royal decree identified nuclear power as essential to help meet growing energy demand for both electricity generation and water desalination, while reducing reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

Last September contracts were signed between the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and KA-CARE to support their cooperation in developing KAERI's SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor). This is a 330 MWt (100 MWe) pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News