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China racing ahead on nuclear energy

CHINA is due to bring two nuclear reactors in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces online in the fourth quarter as part its efforts to utilize some of the world’s most advanced nuclear technology.

The Sanmen station in Zhejiang and Haiyang station in Shandong have a capacity 1,000 megawatts each and would help China reduce its reliance on coal and gas, Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Power Investment Corp, said yesterday.

He was speaking at the 25th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering in Shanghai.

The Sanmen reactor was commissioned on Saturday and is now only awaiting authorization from the central government to plug into the state grid, said Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute president Zheng Mingguang.

Wang estimates the plant will be operating by the fourth quarter, but warned uncertainties remain due to “administrative approvals still needed, covering procedures such as adding fuels and connecting electricity to grids.”

The reactors are named AP1000, referring to the “advanced passive system” automatic cooling systems to avoid explosions.

China bought the technology from US-based Westinghouse in 2007, after which around 200 research institutes and companies have helped localize production and further research and development, Wang said.

The reactors have a lifetime of 60 years and “could run without problems in 20-30 years beyond that,” Zheng said.

China has been searching for buyers of its home-grown nuclear technology to boost profits and expand its global market share.

Pakistan has placed orders with China to build nuclear plants, while Britain last year approved the collaboration with the China General Nuclear Power Corporation on several power projects.


 

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