Russia completes world's first Gen III+ reactor; China to start up five reactors in 2017

Our pick of the latest nuclear power news you need to know.

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Rosatom starts commercial operations of first Gen III+ VVER-1200 reactor

Rosatom has started commercial operations of the NVNPP-2 Unit 1 VVER-1200 reactor at Novovoronezh in central Russia, marking the world's first full start-up of a generation III+ reactor, the company said in a statement March 1.

NVNPP-2 Unit 1 was connected to the grid in August 2016 and testing was completed on February 23, including 15 days’ performance testing at 100% capacity, the operator said.

Generation III+ reactors incorporate extra safety features to avoid the kind of disaster suffered at Fukushima in 2011. Several other types of generation III+ reactors are under construction in U.S., Europe and Asia but have been subject to delays.

The VVER-1200 reactor has a capacity of 1.2 GW, a 20% increase on the previous VVER-1000 design. Safety improvements include a passive heat removal system that operates in the absence of electric power supply.

The lifespan of the main VVER equipment such as reactor and steam generator vessels has been "doubled from 30 to 60 years" and high-level automation and instrumentation has reduced labor requirements "by 25%-30%," according to Rosatom.

China to complete five reactors in 2017; CGN wants faster deployment

China is to complete the construction of five nuclear power reactors and start construction on eight more units in 2017, the country's National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a report published February 10.

Construction will be completed on the Sanmen 1 and Haiyang 1 AP1000 units, the Taishan 1 EPR and the Fuqing 4 and Yangjiang 4 CPR-1000 units, NEA said.

China's rapid expansion in nuclear power capacity will see it overtake the U.S. as the world's largest nuclear generator by 2026, Bloomberg reported January 31, citing new research from Fitch subsidiary BMI Research.

China brought online 8 GW of nuclear power in 2016 and is predicted to triple its installed nuclear capacity to nearly 100 GW by 2026, BMI analysts said in a note.

BP predicts China's nuclear power generation will grow by 11% per year out to 2035, and account for nearly three-quarters of the global increase in nuclear generation.

"This is roughly equivalent to China introducing a new reactor every three months for the next 20 years," BP said in its Annual Energy Outlook, published January 25.

China needs to further accelerate the construction of new nuclear power plants in order to meet targets on nuclear energy and lower pollution levels, He Yu, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), told the China Daily newspaper in an article published March 7.

Source: EIA (September 2016)

EPRs delayed

China General Nuclear has delayed the scheduled start up dates for the Taishan 1 and 2 plants by six months, to the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018 respectively, World Nuclear News reported.

Taishan 1 and 2 are the first French designed EPR reactor types to be built in China. EPR projects in Finland and France have already suffered multi-year delays and are due to come online in 2018.

CGN revised the scheduled start-up dates for Taishan 1 and 2 following an evaluation of the remaining engineering construction plan and risks, the company said in a note reportedly sent to the Hong Kong stock exchange on February 20.

The Taishan plants are being developed by the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company, in which CGN holds a 70% stake and EDF 30%.

Ultra Electronics, CGN to collaborate on next generation I&C

U.K.'s Ultra Electronics and China General Nuclear (CGN) are to jointly develop high integrity instrumentation and control (I&C) systems and sensors for civil nuclear power within China, the companies announced in a joint statement March 3.

Ultra Electronics has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CGN to collaborate on "next generation I&C systems including reactor protection and control," the firms said. The two companies have already collaborated on other projects in China, including Ling Ao Phase II.

"The MoU will also explore possible collaboration in areas such as engineering support, localised manufacture and testing, through-life support, safety systems and sensors, and lifetime plant performance monitoring," the companies said.

The collaboration would "help deliver mutual benefit to both the Chinese and UK civil nuclear markets," Rakesh Sharma, Chief Executive of Ultra Electronics, said.

Nuclear Energy Insider