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Work starts on new Tianwan and Xudabao units

Work on Tianwan units 7 and 8 and Xudabao units 3 and 4 was launched today at a ceremony attended via video-link by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The four VVER-1200 reactors are part of a series of strategic agreements Russia and China signed in 2018. According to a Kremlin statement, the two heads of state witnessed the pouring of first concrete for Tianwan unit 7 and Xudabao unit 3.

Alexey Likhachov, director general of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, said the existing Tianwan units are “working for the benefit of the Chinese people and making a significant contribution to ensuring China’s energy security”. So far, those units, which were built with Rosatom’s participation, have already produced more than 270 terawatt hours of electricity, he added.

Situated in the city of Lianyungang in China’s Jiangsu province, the Tianwan nuclear power plant is the biggest example of Russian-Chinese economic cooperation, Rosatom said. The first two Tianwan units are Russian-built VVER-1000 reactors, which have been in commercial operation since 2007. Three years later, Rosatom and China’s National Nuclear Corporation signed a general contract for the construction of the next stage of the Tianwan project – units 3 and 4, which entered commercial operation in 2018.

In March 2019, a ceremony was held in Beijing to sign a general contract for the construction Tianwan units 7 and 8. Under this project, an intergovernmental agreement and a framework contract were signed for the construction of VVER-1200 reactors. In accordance with this, Rosatom will design the nuclear island and supply the key equipment, as well as provide nuclear fuel for both units. The units are scheduled to be commissioned in 2026-2027.

Situated in Huludao in Liaoning province, the Xudabao (also known as Xudapu) nuclear power plant is a new joint nuclear energy project between the two countries. Agreements they signed in 2019 included a general contract for the construction of VVER-1200 reactors as units 3 and 4 of the Xudabao plant, as well as a contract for the supply of nuclear fuel. Rosatom will design the nuclear island and supply key equipment, as well as provide field supervision, installation supervision, and commissioning services for the supplied equipment. These units are expected to be commissioned in 2027-2028.

Putin said today that Russian and Chinese nuclear specialists are implementing “a truly iconic, flagship joint project”.

On their wider cooperation in civil nuclear energy, Putin noted the experimental fast neutron reactor built in China with Russian participation.

“The issue of China’s participation in an international consortium for the construction of a multipurpose fast neutron research reactor in the city of Dimitrovgrad is being considered,” he said. “The plans include joint research in the field of creating a closed nuclear fuel cycle.” Russia also supplied China with radionuclide thermal blocks for Chang’e-4 – the Chinese spacecraft that in 2019 carried out the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon, he added.

World Nuclear Association’s Director for China, François Morin, said: “The launch of these four units has started with the simultaneous concrete pouring at two sites, Tianwan 7 and Xudabao 3. This already secures China’s target to start construction of four reactors in the first half of 2021. With the concrete pouring for Tianwan 8 and Xudabao 4 after a few months’ delay, probably within 2021, China can meet the target of eight new reactors in construction per year, as per various official forecasts and statements.”

The localisation rate in China’s nuclear reactor construction projects is now at 85%, which proves the country is open to technologies and personnel from overseas, Morin said. “Only this multi-card approach in nuclear power will make it possible to achieve the objective of reaching 10% of the country’s electricity mix in 2035,” he said, adding that the next 15 years will be “an important period of strategic opportunity” for the development of nuclear power in China.

Source: World Nuclear News