Nucleoeléctrica to support Chinese Candu refurbishment

23 March 2022

Nucleoeléctrica Argentina has signed a contract with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to provide technical assistance to support retubing work as part of the refurbishment of China's Qinshan nuclear power plant. The Argentinean company said it is drawing on experience gained during work to extend the operating life of the Embalse nuclear power plant.

Nucleoeléctrica will draw on its experience from retubing work at Embalse (Image: @Nucleoelectrica)

Retubing is a key process in the refurbishment of Candu-type nuclear power plants, when the main components that make up the reactor are removed and replaced. Nucleoeléctrica said it is "providing advice" on retubing at Qinshan, which is beginning the first phase of its refurbishment. Embalse - a Candu 6 unit - returned to commercial operation in May 2019 after a three-year refurbishment and upgrade programme which will enable it to continue in operation for another 30 years.

The contract with the China National Nuclear Corporation and the first work order were signed last year, Nucleoeléctrica said. The first stage of work has seen a multidisciplinary group working to review and prepare documentation that has already been sent to China. In the next phase, it is "comtemplated" that Nucleoeléctrica staff will work on site at the plant, which is in China's southern Zhejiang Province.

In addition to technical assistance, the service package includes advice on the management of human capital and resources, which according to Nucleoelétrica is new in this type of contracting.

Qinshan is China's largest nuclear power plant, comprising seven reactors: Phase I comprises a 300 MWe pressurised water reactor (PWR) which was the first Chinese-designed nuclear power station to be built and began commercial operation in 1994; Phase II, with four CNP-600 PWRs; and Phase III, with two Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors which were built by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Qinshan III unit 1 entered commercial operation in 2002, and unit 2 in 2003.

Nucleoeléctrica operates Argentina's three nuclear power plants - Atucha 1 and 2, and Embalse - all of which are pressurised heavy water reactors. Embalse, like the Qinshan units, is a Candu 6.

In January, Nucleoeléctrica and CNNC signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the development of a third plant at Atucha, using Hualong One technology - the HPR1000 reactor, which will use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News