China celebrates construction milestones

31 December 2013

Construction has started on the sixth unit at the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in China's Guangdong province - the largest nuclear construction site in the world. The first two reactors there, together with several other units elsewhere in the country, are nearing start-up.

Yangjiang 6 first concrete 460 (CNEC)
Construction gets under way of Yangjiang 6 (Image: CNECC)

Engineers began pouring concrete for Yangjiang 6 on 23 December, plant builder China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNECC) reported. The operation to pour some 1426 cubic meters of concrete for the unit's basemat was expected to take about 19 hours to complete. The official start of construction of the unit means that there are now six reactors at various stages of being built at the site.

Work on the first reactor at Yangjiang began in December 2008 with subsequent reactor construction following in 2009 and 2010. China's post-Fukushima hiatus in new reactor approvals meant the start of construction at unit 4 was delayed until the end of 2012, while first concrete for unit 5 was poured in September 2013.

On the same day that concrete was poured for unit 6, the first unit at Yangjiang moved closer to commissioning by achieving first criticality. The unit was then connected to the grid on 31 December and is expected to enter commercial operation around May. Meanwhile, cold testing of the nuclear island of Yangjiang 2 began on 30 December.

The first four Yangjiang units are CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors, with units 5 and 6 being the more advanced ACPR-1000. All the reactors should be in operation by 2018, producing a grand total of around 6100 MWe.

Start-ups approaching

Important milestones have also been achieved recently at other reactors nearing completion in China.

First criticality was achieved by unit 2 of the Ningde plant in Fujian province on 20 December. The CPR-1000 - one of four being built on the site - is scheduled to start commercial operation in the second half of 2014. All four units will be in operation by 2015.

Meanwhile, the initial hot testing of the nuclear island of the first unit at the Fuqing plant, also in Fujian province, was successfully completed on 24 December. There are plans for a second phase of hot tests, which aim to simulate the temperatures and pressures which the reactor's systems will be subjected to during normal operation. This important phase ensures coolant circuits and nuclear safety systems are functioning properly before fuel can be loaded.

Construction of Fuqing 1 started in November 2008 and it is scheduled to begin operating early next year. Unit 2, construction of which began in June 2009, is expected to start up in September.

Cold testing also began at unit 3 of the Hongyanhe plant in northern Liaoning province on 27 December. The reactor is scheduled to begin operating next year.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News