First EPR enters commercial operation

14 December 2018

Unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province has completed all commissioning work and is qualified for commercial operation, China General Nuclear (CGN) announced yesterday. It becomes the first EPR reactor to reach the milestone.

Taishan units 1 and 2 (Image: CGN)

Taishan 1 completed a full-power continuous demonstration test run of 168 hours yesterday, CGN announced in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Although CGN must still obtain necessary permits and documentation, the unit is now considered to be in commercial operation.

"The successful outcome of this test marks the achievement of all prerequisite conditions for the reactor's safe operation," CGN and EDF said in a joint press release today.

Taishan 1 and 2 are the first two reactors based on the EPR design to be built in China. They form part of an EUR8 billion (USD9 billion) contract signed by Areva and CGN in November 2007. The Taishan project - 140 kilometres west of Hong Kong - is owned by the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company Limited, a joint venture between EDF (30%) and CGN. Unit 1 of the power plant started construction in 2009, followed by unit 2 in 2010. These two units are the third and fourth EPR units under construction globally, after the Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland and the Flamanville 3 project in France. The EPR design adopted in Taishan was developed by Framatome.

CGN began loading fuel assemblies into Unit 1's core on 10 April following the issuance that day of a permit from the NNSA. The reactor achieved first criticality on 6 June and was connected to the grid on 29 June. Taishan 2 - which is in the equipment installation phase - is scheduled to begin operating next year.

Framatome Chairman and CEO Bernard Fontana noted, "As designer of the EPR, Framatome - now part of the EDF group - is delighted to witness the commercial start-up of the Taishan 1 project, a milestone that rewards the teams' sustained efforts over recent years." Framatome contributed major parts of the plant's nuclear scope including nuclear steam supply system, safety instrumentation & control, procurement and support to erection and commissioning.

"Taishan 1's entry into operation marks the accomplishment of the task set by the Chinese and French heads of state," said He Yu, chairman of CGN. "As the world's first EPR project, Taishan offers valuable lessons and solutions for the construction of similar reactors worldwide and it will play a demonstrative and supportive role in the joint construction of the Hinkley Point C project in the UK by CGN and EDF."

EDF Chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said: "The commissioning of Taishan 1, the world's first EPR to enter into commercial operation, is a key achievement for the entire French nuclear industry as it demonstrates its capacity to develop this third-generation nuclear technology in line with the highest safety and quality standards."

He added, "EPR is a major asset in addressing the challenge facing many countries: reconciling the growth of electricity demand with the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Taishan project also illustrates our approach to developing EPRs worldwide, in cooperation with valued partners such as CGN."

"Taishan 1 is providing EPR reactors around the world with its experience in project management and technological expertise," said EDF and CGN. "The first reactors to benefit from this experience are the two Hinkley Point C units currently being built in the UK."

Under a strategic investment agreement signed in October 2016, CGN agreed to take a 33.5% stake in EDF Energy's Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, as well as jointly develop new nuclear power plants at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. The Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C plants will be based on France's EPR reactor technology, while the new plant at Bradwell in Essex will feature China's Hualong One design.

Olkiluoto 3, the first-of-a-kind EPR, has completed hot functional tests and is preparing to load fuel, while fuel loading at the Flamanville EPR is scheduled to begin by the end of this year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News