China to build 1st 3G nuclear plant in March

The construction of China’s first third-generation nuclear plant, the Sanmen power plant, is set to begin in March, the State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) said Thursday.

Wang Binghua, SNPTC’s chairman of the board, said the plant in east China’s Zhejiang Province was expected to generate power by August 2013. It would also become the world’s first AP1000 nuclear plant.

The AP1000 technology, designed by the US-based Westinghouse company, is an advanced technology approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but it has never been actually used in any operating power plant.

The construction of the Haiyang nuclear power plant in Shandong province using the same AP1000 technology will also begin later this year.

The SNPTC would buy four third-generation PWRs from the Westinghouse, including its technologies, according to a contract signed last July.

Wang said the preparation work was right on track. The SNPTC had received 2.2 tons of technological documents from Westinghouse.

In addition, the company had agreed to purchase 4,000 tons of steel sheets from the country’s largest steel maker, the Baosteel, to produce safety shells.

In his visit to the SNPTC on Thursday, Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan hailed the country’s progress in the field, and appreciated the company’s negotiation efforts in introducing the third generation nuclear technologies.

He also urged the company to accelerate the pace of independent development of nuclear power technologies. The SNPTC, established in May last year, was "a strategic step in improving national nuclear power system construction and promote technology independence," he said.

Related government departments, program owners and major shareholders are required to step up support to the company, he said.

China currently has 11 nuclear generating units in operation. Three of them used domestic technologies, two were equipped with Russian technologies, four with French technologies and two were Canadian designed. All of them employed the second-generation technologies.

According to the government plan, China will have an installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for four percent of the country’s total.

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