CHINA has broken ground on a 3 billion-yuan (US$476 million) nuclear power project that will be the first in the world to put a reactor with fourth-generation features into commercial use, a Chinese energy company said yesterday.
It also marks China's latest move to speed up nuclear power development, which came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan in 2011.
Construction of the project at Shidao Bay in the coastal city of Rongcheng in Shandong Province began last month, Xinhua learned from Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Co Ltd (HSNPC), the builder and operator of the plant.
With a designed capacity of 200 megawatts and "the characteristics of fourth-generation nuclear energy systems," the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor will start generating power by the end of 2017, HSNPC said in a statement e-mailed to Xinhua news agency.
Independently developed by Tsinghua University, the reactor has the fourth-generation features of "inherent safety" and "passive nuclear safety," which provides for a safe shut-down in an emergency without causing a reactor core meltdown or massive leakage of radioactive material, according to the statement.
The reactor's outlet temperature is able to hit 750 degrees Celsius, compared with 1,000 degrees Celsius, that can be reached by the very-high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, an internationally-accepted 4G reactor concept.
It can also raise electricity generation efficiency to around 40 percent from 30 percent now of second- and third-generation reactors, the statement said.
If it is commercially successful, the reactor's technology and equipment can be exported to other countries in the future, said an HSNPC public relations officer who declined to be named.
"That will be a great boost to China's nuclear industry, as a very high percentage of the equipment is produced domestically instead of being imported," the official told Xinhua by telephone.
The project is part of HSNPC's broader plan to build a 6.6-gigawatt nuclear power plant that will require an investment of around 100 billion yuan over 20 years. If completed, it would be China's largest nuclear power plant, said the official.
The plan, which has not yet been approved by regulators, also includes four 1.25-GW AP1000 pressurized water reactors and a 1.4-GW CAP1400 pressurized water reactor.
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