China General Nuclear Power and rival China National Nuclear plan to build four more reactors on mainland

Indigenous Hualong One design able to withstand impact of a commercial aircraft crashing on reactor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 February, 2016, 8:35am

China General Nuclear Power (CGN) and rival China National Nuclear (CNNC) plan to build four more reactors on the mainland based on the indigenous Hualong One design, which would help lower costs and bolster their business case in export markets.

Shenzhen-based CGN plans to deploy the new design in the fifth and sixth reactors of the nuclear project in Ningde, Fujian province, while CNNC is seeking to use the Hualong One design in the first two reactors of a proposed project in Zhangzhou, also in Fujian, Mao Qing, the Hualong One’s deputy chief designer, said on Tuesday.

Yang Maochun, CGN’s deputy general manager of international nuclear power business development, said a licensing application had been made for the Ningde reactors and it was awaiting regulatory approval.

Mao declined to provide details of the potential investments involved or construction timetable for the Ningde reactor projects.

Hualong One was developed by CGN and CNNC after learning third-generation (3G) technologies from foreign firms.

CGN has upgraded French firm Areva’s 3G technology, while CNNC has made improvements on American firm Westinghouse’s 3G technology. Both have claimed intellectual property rights on the improvements.

READ MORE: China General Nuclear Power expands overseas plant construction business

Mao said Hualong incorporated multiple safety features, with the reactors able to withstand the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis of the scale of those that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, and also withstand the impact of a commercial aircraft crashing on the reactor.

While CGN and CNNC both came up with their own versions of 3G products in late 2011, the National Energy Administration, which regulates the sector, ordered them to merge their designs into what is now known as Hualong One to pool resources and avoid direct competition in overseas markets.

Mao said the targeted construction cost of Hualong One was US$2.5 million per megawatt of installed capacity when production was scaled up.

CGN vice-president Zheng Dongshan said the cost would be “competitive” in the global 3G reactor market.

READ MORE: China’s global nuclear power ambitions depend on safety

Westinghouse chief executive Daniel Roderick was quoted by Bloomberg as saying in December that its latest 3G reactor model would trump the Hualong One, saying its AP1000 product would “be able to compete against anybody or anything” when the next phase of plants is built in the next three years.

Zheng said CGN and CNNC were both competitors and business partners with Westinghouse and Areva, depending on the project.

While touted as having simpler designs that reduce capital costs and make them easier to build than older reactors, pilot reactors using Areva and Westinghouse 3G technologies suffered construction delays due to technical challenges.

CGN started site preparation for one Hualong One reactor in Fangchenggang, Guangxi, in December, with trial operation scheduled to start in 2020.

CNNC began construction of two Hualong One reactors last year, one in May and the other in December.

Both firms are also pursuing export opportunities.

CGN is seeking to build Hualong One reactors in Britain, Thailand and Kenya, while CNNC is pursuing Hualong One projects in Pakistan and Argentina.