A new research and development office opened in Beijing this week, focused on the task of assimilating AP1000 nuclear technology for mass deployment.
The centre was jointly set up by Tsinghua University and the State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC). A ceremony to mark the contract signing and the official opening of the office took place on 24 October.
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The centre was founded with the aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation between SNPTC and the university in nuclear power technology research and industrialization. In practice this means a focus on areas such as the development, extension and application of nuclear power and nuclear technologies, consultancy services relating to nuclear engineering and research on 'soft' tasks in nuclear power.
Initially the center will put most effort into the adaptation and assimilation of third-generation AP1000 nuclear power technology. Research on fourth generation nuclear technology will be conducted at a suitable time. It is here that Tsinghua University can offer very specialist input, as it hosts the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology (INET), which is due to construct a demonstration high temperature gas-graphite reactor at Shidaowan next year.
Wang Binghua, chair of SNPTC said the Research Center, is meant to become "the main base and research platform for nuclear power technology in China." It will "accelerate the industrialization of nuclear technologies," he added.
SNPTC was set up in 2004 to take the technical lead in China's mass deployment of nuclear power plants. It initiated a tender for the latest nuclear power plant designs, which resulted in Westinghouse and Areva gaining contracts for their AP1000 and EPR designs respectively. Currently, two EPRs and two pairs of AP1000s are beginning construction.
An important factor for SNPTC in the contract was technology transfer. Westinghouse agreed to allow Chinese engineers to master the AP1000 technology, adapt it to a standardised design for use in China and then build the units unaided. Using AP1000 and CPR-1000 reactors (developed after earlier technology transfer from Areva), Chinese planners want to build well over 100 new reactors by 2030.
Gu Binglin, president of Tsinghua University, said, "China has proposed guidelines to boost the construction of nuclear power plants. SNPTC, as a state-owned large-scale leading enterprise, is undertaking heavy responsibility for handling such issues as third-generation nuclear power technology imports, project construction and independent development. Tsinghua, as a national key institute, has accumulated plenty of experience in nuclear reactor development and nuclear technology application." He added that "Tsinghua will fully support the research center to make it a state engineering research center."