Construction of three new Chinese reactors has started since the country’s announcement in October that it would approve only a ‘small number’ of projects in each of the coming five years.
First concrete has now been poured for Fuqing unit 4 in Fujian province and Yangjiang unit 4 in Guangdong province – both 1080 MWe CPR-1000 units. In addition, construction of the Shandong Shidaowan HTR-PM project – a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor – has also started in Shandong province.
Just days after the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011, China’s State Council decided to halt approvals and licensing for new reactors until a safety plan was in place and there was assurance that existing plants were adequately designed, sited, protected and managed. It also suspended work on four approved units – Fuqing units 4, 5 and 6, and Yangjiang unit 4 – due to start construction in 2011. The Shandong Shidaowan HTR-PM project, although ready for first concrete, was also delayed. Power generation continued at reactors in operation at the time, as did construction of the 25 units then approved. Two of those have since been completed and come into operation, bringing China’s total number of operating nuclear power reactors to 15.
However, on 24 October 2012, Premier Wen Jiabao announced that China will “steadily return to normal construction” of new nuclear power plants, based on a “steady advance in an orderly manner”. Officially covering the period 2011-15, the 12th Five Year Plan will call for a “small number” of nuclear projects to be approved each year after full discussion.
It is understood that only coastal sites will be approved in the 12th plan period, meaning significant rescheduling for inland projects at Taohuajiang, Xianning and Pengze, which had previously been expected to start construction before 2015.
The new construction starts bring the total under construction in China to 29 units with a combined capacity of30,000 MWe.