Boom Times For China's Nuclear Power Industry
One might say these are boom times for China's nuclear power industry, and that's a good thing... so far. Only four Chinese nuclear power plants were operating at the beginning of 2012 but that number will, er, explode to 15 by the end of 2015.
Let's take a look at these existing, under construction and planned power stations in the order of their start-up dates.
1) Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant
Talk about a work in progress: the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant was the first of its kind in China and, someday, it will be the nation's largest with nearly a dozen reactors of various types.
Located on the coast of Zhejiang province just south of Shanghai, the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant's first nuclear reactor began operating in late 1991. For the past 10 years it has operated without an event (in other words, an accident) rating 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. (Chinese nuclear plant images via CNN World and Go Green Go Nuclear)
2) Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant
Though frequently the focus of Hong Kong-based anti-nuclear protests, the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant's pair of French-built nuclear reactors have won numerous awards for safe operation. The reactors began operations on August 31st, 1993, and February 2nd, 1994.
Located just north of Hong Kong in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, the outwardly attractive reactor buildings are referred to as Guangdong-1 and Guangdong-2 in the IAEA's PRIS database. (Chinese nuclear plant images via HKNIC and Energy.gov)
The prototype HTR-10 pebble bed reactor located at Beijing's Tsinghua University is a 10-megawatt-rated power plant based on the German HTR-MODUL design. This type of reactor design generates hydrogen as a byproduct which, instead of being wastefully vented, can be stored and used later as a cheap, non-polluting fuel for fuel cell powered vehicles.
Construction began on the HTR-10 in 1995 and, following successful testing, the reactor began producing power in January of 2003. (Chinese nuclear plant images via Robert Hargraves and Anti-Atom-Aktuel)
4) Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant
The Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant is China's largest nuclear plant. Consisting of two 1,000 MW capacity VVER pressurized water reactors constructed by Russia's Atomstroyexport, the plant began full operation on August 16th, 2007.
Plans are in the works to add up to six additional reactors to the complex beginning in 2018, giving the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant a total power generation capacity of 8,400 MW. (Chinese nuclear plant images via China Daily and CTV News)
5) Ling'Ao Nuclear Power Plant
Situated just 1 km north of the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Shenzhen, the Ling'Ao Nuclear Power Plant's two French-based, 938 MW PWR reactors comprising Phase I began full operations in 2002 and 2003.
An additional two reactors of the CPR-1000 design known as Ling'Ao phase II came online in September of 2010 and August of 2011 respectively. The plant, located about 60km from Hong Kong, now boasts a total power generation capacity of 4,000 MW. (Chinese nuclear plant images via NEC and TEPC)
6) Ningde Nuclear Power Plant
The first of six 1,080 megawatt CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors at the Ningde Nuclear Power Plant in China's southeastern Fujian province was connected to the national electric power grid for testing purposes on December 28th, 2012.
All four reactors at the Ningde Phase I complex should be up and running by the end of 2015 with a further two reactors comprising Phase II scheduled to join them at a yet undisclosed date. (Chinese nuclear plant images via World Nuclear News and Zhejiang Dadi Steel Co., Ltd.)
7) Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant
The Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant in China's northeastern Liaoning Province will eventually comprise six 1,000 megawatt CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors – at press time four of the reactors were under construction. The first reactor, Hongyanhe 1, started criticality testing on January 16th of 2013 and almost exactly one month later achieved successful connection to the national electric grid.
All four reactors are expected to be in full operating mode sometime in 2014 with an additional two reactors coming online one to three years after. (Chinese nuclear plant images via Business Insider and L-3 MAPPS)
8) Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station
Following a safety review ordered by the Chinese government in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, construction has resumed on Phase I of the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station. The first of four 1,000 megawatt CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors is expected to be finished in August of 2013.
By the end of 2017 all four reactors should be operating with another two planned for the end of the decade. The complex is located in Yangjiang City on China's southern coast, west of Hong Kong. (Chinese nuclear plant images via Business Insider and Xinhuanet)
9) Sanmen Nuclear Power Station
Phase I of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Station is now under construction with the first Westinghouse-developed AP1000 pressurized water reactor scheduled to begin operating in October of 2013 and second in June of 2014. Phase II, comprising an additional four AP1000 reactors, is envisioned for the future though no set timeline has been announced.
The Sanmen Nuclear Power Station is located on the coast of Zhejiang province and will greatly boost the amount of electrical energy available to Shanghai and surrounding cities. (Chinese nuclear plant images via China.org.cn and CABR Tech)
10) Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant
Located on the coast of Xinghua Bay in Fujian province, the Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant has been under construction since November of 2008 and the first of six planned 1,000 megawatt CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors will begin generating power in November of 2013. A total of four reactors should be running by mid-2017.
The CPR-1000 is the most common type of nuclear reactor in China. Its advanced PWR (pressurized water) design is an incremental, Chinese-engineered development of the safe and reliable Areva-designed PWRs proven at the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant. (Chinese nuclear plant images via SINA and HDFX)
11) Fangjiashan Nuclear Power Plant
As if a dozen nuclear reactors at the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant aren't enough, construction on the Fangjiashan Nuclear Power Plant just adjacent is now well underway.
Two 1,080 megawatt CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors are under construction, with the first reactor scheduled to begin commercial power generation in December of 2013 and the second joining it sometime in October 2014. (Chinese nuclear plant images via China.org.cn and DEC)
12) Taishan Nuclear Power Plant
The power-hungry economic zone surrounding Hong Kong in China's southern Guangdong province will get a boost beginning in December of 2013 when the first of two Areva 1,700 megawatt European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) units at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant begins operations. Its twin is expected to join it on the grid by November of 2014.
The project is a joint venture, 70% of which is owned by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group and the remaining 30% by Électricité de France. (Chinese nuclear plant images via CMSG and CSCEC)
13) Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant
The Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant currently under construction in Tangxing Village in Hainan is the first such plant to be built on this large island off China's southern coast.
A total of four 650-megawatt CNP-600 pressurized water reactors divided into two phases will comprise the complex, with the first reactor due to come online in mid-2014. (Chinese nuclear plant images via ChinaFotoPress/Bloomberg Businessweek and CABR Tech)
14) Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant
The Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant is strategically located in the bustling Shandong province manufacturing and residential zone anchored by the cities of Qingdao, Yantai, Weihai and Haiyang itself. The scale of the currently under construction complex is massive: plans call for a total of eight AP1000 reactors split into three phases.
The first two reactors comprising Phase I are expected to add electrical power to the grid in May of 2014 and March of 2015. (Chinese nuclear plant images via The Augusta Chronicle and CABR Tech)
15) Xianning Nuclear Power Plant
As the first Chinese nuclear power plant to be built inland and not on the seacoast, the Xianning Nuclear Power Plant in east-central Hubei province will draw its cooling water from the Fushui Reservoir. Due to rising wages in China's coastal manufacturing concerns it's expected factories will gradually shift their operations inland where wage expectations among the mainly rural populace are lower.
A total of four AP1000 reactors split into two phases are envisioned for the completed plant in Dafanzhen. Ground was broken for the first reactor in 2011 and assuming all goes well, that reactor unit will go online to the grid sometime in 2015. (Chinese nuclear plant images via Wikipedia and Energy China Forum)
Recent reports of choking air pollution from coal-fired factory operations and fossil-fuel power plants illustrate the cost of China's breakneck economic growth.
While expectations are that growth will continue, the people's patience with pollution and its associated detrimental health effects is even now reaching worrisome levels both for the public and the Party.
Going nuclear in a big way should do much to clear the nation's skies and the public's lungs, as long as there isn't a “China Syndrome” to throw things off the rails. (Chinese nuclear plant images via The Breakthrough, top, and NBC News/Mike Clarke/AFP-Getty Images, above)