China resumes new reactor approvals

10 March 2015

The Chinese government has approved construction of two more units at the Hongyanhe nuclear power plant in Liaoning province, marking the first approval for new reactors in four years.

China General Nuclear (CGN) announced today that it had received a document from the National Development and Reform Commission confirming that approval had been granted for construction of Hongyanhe units 5 and 6.

According to Chinese media reports, construction of Hongyanhe units 5 and 6 was formally approved at the 17 February meeting of the State Council. The National Energy Board is reported to have also recently approved the project.

CGN must now obtain construction permits from the National Nuclear Security Administration for the two units - likely to be Chinese-developed Hualong One reactors - before construction can begin.

The Hongyanhe site already hosts four CPR-1000 units. Units 1 and 2 have been in commercial operation since June 2013 and May 2014, respectively. Units 3 and 4 are both scheduled to start up this year.

Just days after the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011, China's State Council decided to halt approvals and licensing for new reactors until a safety plan was in place and there was assurance that existing plants were adequately designed, sited, protected and managed. It also suspended work on four approved units - Fuqing units 4, 5 and 6, and Yangjiang unit 4 - due to start construction in 2011. The Shandong Shidaowan HTR-PM project, although ready for first concrete, was also delayed. Power generation continued at reactors in operation at the time, as did construction of the 25 units then approved.

In October 2012, premier Wen Jiabao announced that China would "steadily return to normal construction" of new nuclear power plants, based on a "steady advance in an orderly manner". The construction of previously approved projects began shortly afterwards.

Officially covering the period 2011-15, China's 12th Five Year Plan calls for a "small number" of nuclear projects to be approved each year after full discussion. With only coastal plants being approved, significant rescheduling has been made for inland projects at Taohuajiang, Xianning and Pengze, which had previously been expected to start construction before 2015.

China currently has 23 nuclear power reactors in operation with a combined capacity of 20,115 MWe. A further 26 units, with a combined capacity of over 28,000 MWe are under construction.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News