Start-up nearing for Chinese units

25 March 2014

A number of new nuclear power reactors in China are approaching start-up. The first unit at Yangjiang has completed full-power trial operation while hot tests have concluded at Fuqing 1. Two other units recently completed pressure tests on their containments.

Fuqing 1 control room 460 (CNNC)
Workers in the control room of Fuqing 1 conduct hot tests (Image: CNNC)

Yangjiang 1 - the first of six units under construction at the site in China's Guangdong province - began a full-power demonstration phase on 18 March. This trial run was expected to be completed today. Once completed, the unit will be considered ready for commercial operation.

Work on the first reactor at Yangjiang began in December 2008. It achieved first criticality on 23 December 2013 and was connected to the grid on 31 December.

The first four Yangjiang units are 1080 MWe CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors, with units 5 and 6 being the more advanced ACPR-1000. All the reactors should be in operation by 2018, producing a grand total of around 6100 MWe.

Hot tests at Fuqing 1

At unit 1 of the Fuqing plant in Fujian province, hot testing of its nuclear island was successfully completed on 5 March. These tests aimed to simulate the temperatures and pressures which the reactor's systems will be subjected to during normal operation. This important phase ensures coolant circuits and nuclear safety systems are functioning properly before fuel is loaded.

Construction of Fuqing 1, a CPR-1000, started in November 2008 and it is scheduled to begin operating within the next few months. Unit 2, construction of which began in June 2009, is expected to start up in September.

China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC's) Fuqing plant in Fujian province will eventually house six Chinese-designed pressurized water reactors. Ground was broken for Fuqing unit 3 and 4 in June 2009. Those reactors should begin operation in mid-2015 and mid-2016, respectively.

Containment tests

Meanwhile, containment pressure tests have been completed at unit 2 of the Fuqing plant and Hongyanhe 3 in Liaoning province.

The tests at Fuqing 2 were completed on 5 March. A series of tests were conducted over a two-week period to demonstrate that the inner containment, which houses the reactor primary circuit, is leak-tight and pressure-resistant. During the tests, large compressors were used to pressurize the containment up to 5 bar (5kg/cm2).

Similar tests were completed the previous day at unit 3 of the Hongyanhe plant. Construction of the CPR-1000 began in January 2009. It is expected to begin operating later this year.

The Hongyanhe plant is the first to be built in the northeast of China. The site incorporates a seawater desalination plant producing 10,080 cubic metres of potable water per day.

China currently has 20 nuclear power reactors in operation with a combined capacity of 17,130 MWe. A further 28 units are under construction. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world's most advanced, to give more than a three-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News