Fuel loading under way at fourth Tianwan unit

28 August 2018

The loading of fuel into the core of unit 4 at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China's Jiangsu province has begun ahead of its start-up, Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has announced. The Russian-supplied VVER-1000 is scheduled to begin operating by the end of this year.

Fuel loading operations get under way at Tianwan 4 (Image: ASE Group)

Following approval from China's National Nuclear Safety Administration, the first of 163 fuel assemblies was loaded into the core of Tianwan 4 at 7.15pm on 25 August. Rosatom said once all the assemblies have been loaded, start up and commissioning work will be carried out. The reactor will then be brought to the "minimum controllable power level", followed by the start of power generation.

"Today a significant milestone in the construction of unit 4 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant was achieved," said Alexey Bannik, ASE Group's director of projects in China. "Fuel loading is the commencement of the unit's first criticality procedures. Unit 4 will then enter the start-up stage to be connected to China's power grid. We are planning to complete all the main stages by the end of the year, in accordance with the schedule."

Tianwan Phase I - units 1 and 2 - was constructed under a 1992 cooperation agreement between China and Russia. First concrete was poured in October 1999, and the units were commissioned in June 2007 and September 2007 respectively. Tianwan Phase II - units 3 and 4 - are similar to the first stage of the Tianwan plant, comprising two AES-91 VVER-1000 units designed by Gidropress and supplied by Rosatom. First concrete for unit 3 was poured in December 2012, while construction of the fourth unit began in September 2013. Unit 3 achieved first criticality on 29 September last year and was connected to the grid on 30 December. The unit entered commercial operation on 15 February having completed demonstration operation at nominal capacity for 100 hours. Unit 4 is expected to enter commercial operation in March 2019.

Construction of Tianwan Phase III - units 5 and 6 - was originally scheduled to start in early 2011. However, following the March 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, the Chinese government suspended the approval of new nuclear power projects, including those two units.

The latest Five-Year Plan called for construction of Phase III of the Tianwan plant to be accelerated. China's State Council gave its approval for Tianwan units 5 and 6 - both featuring 1080 MWe ACPR1000 reactors - on 16 December 2015. First safety-related concrete was poured for unit 5 on 27 December 2015, with that for unit 6 poured on 7 September 2016. CNNC plans to put both units 5 and 6 into commercial operation by the end of 2021.

On 8 June, Russia and China signed four agreements, including the construction of two VVER-1200 reactors as units 7 and 8 of the Tianwan plant. In addition, two VVER-1200 units are to be constructed at the new Xudabao site in Liaoning province.

The Tianwan plant is owned and operated by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation, a joint venture between China National Nuclear Corporation (50%), China Power Investment Corporation (30%) and Jiangsu Guoxin Group (20%).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News