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Nuclear power in China

As of September 2014, the People's Republic of China has 21 nuclear power reactors operating on 8 separate sites and 28 under construction.[1][2][3] Additional reactors are planned, providing 58 GWe of capacity by 2020.[1] China's National Development and Reform Commission has indicated the intention to raise the percentage of China's electricity produced by nuclear power from the current 2% to 6% by 2020 (compared to 20% in the USA and 74% in France).[4] However, rapid nuclear expansion may lead to a shortfall of fuel, equipment, qualified plant workers, and safety inspectors.[5][6]

Due to increasing concerns about air quality, climate change and fossil fuel shortages, nuclear power has been looked into as an alternative to coal power in China.[7][8] China has two major nuclear power companies, the China National Nuclear Corporation operating mainly in north-east China, and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group operating mainly in south-east China.[9] The People's Republic of China is also involved in the development of nuclear fusion reactors through its participation in the ITER project, having constructed an experimental nuclear fusion reactor known as EAST located in Hefei,[10] as well as research and development into the thorium fuel cycle as a potential alternative means of nuclear fission.[11]

China wants to maximize self-reliance on nuclear reactor technology manufacturing and design although international cooperation and technology transfer are also encouraged. Advanced pressurized water reactors such as the ACPR1000 and the AP1000 are the mainstream technology in the near future. By mid-century fast neutron reactors are seen as the main technology. More long-term plans for future capacity are 200 GW by 2030 and 400 GW by 2050. Fast neutron reactors are planned to contribute 1400 GW by 2100.[12] China is positioned to become a reactor exporter, through development of the CPR-1000

The new nuclear safety plan states that beyond 2016 only Generation III plants will be started, and until then only a very few Generation II+ plants will be built.[13]


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Future projects 3
    • The role of the IPPs 3.1
  • Safety and regulation 4
  • Reactor Technology 5
    • Nuclear power plants under construction 5.1
  • Organizations 6
  • Public opposition 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


On 8 February 1970, China issued its first nuclear power plan, and the 728 Institute (now called Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute) was founded. On 15 December 1991, China's first nuclear power reactor, a 288 MWe PWR at the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, was connected to the grid.[14]


Nuclear power plants in China ()
 Active plants
 Under construction plants
 Firmly planned plants

Most nuclear power plants in China are located on the coast and generally use seawater for cooling a direct once-through cycle. The New York Times has reported that China is placing many of its nuclear plants near large cities, and there is a concern that tens of millions of people could be exposed to radiation in the event of an accident.[9] China's neighboring Guangdong and Lingao nuclear plants have around 28 million people within a 75-kilometre radius that covers Hong Kong.[15]

China is evaluating the construction of a high level waste (HLW) repository in the Gobi Desert, probably constructed near Beishan starting around 2041.[16]

Future projects

Currently, this is one of the most ambitious programs in the world with plans to have over 80 GWe (6%) of installed capacity by 2020, and a further increase to more than 200 GW (16%) by 2030,[17] as agreed in the 22 March 2006 government "Long-term development plan for nuclear power industry from 2005 to 2020".[14] The State Council Research Office (SCRO) has recommended that China aim for no more than 100 GW before 2020 (built and building), in order to avoid a shortfall of fuel, equipment and qualified plant workers. It expressed concern that China is building several dozen more Generation 2 reactors, and recommended shifting faster to Generation 3 designs such as the AP1000.[18][19]

The role of the IPPs

The first major successful profitable commercial project was the Daya Bay Nuclear Plant, which is 25% owned by CLP Group of Hong Kong and exports 70% of its electricity to Hong Kong. Such imports supply 20% of Hong Kong's electricity.

In order to access the capital needed to meet the 2020 target of 80GW, China has begun to grant equity in nuclear projects to China's Big Five power corporations:

Like the two nuclear companies China National Nuclear Corporation and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG) the Big Five are State-owned "Central Enterprises" (中央企业) administered by SASAC. However, unlike the two nuclear companies, they have listed subsidiaries in Hong Kong and a broad portfolio of thermal, hydro and wind.

Safety and regulation

The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), under the China Atomic Energy Authority, is the licensing and regulatory body which also maintains international agreements regarding safety. It was set up in 1984 and reports to the State Council directly. In relation to the AP1000, NNSA works closely with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

China has requested and hosted 12 Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) missions from IAEA teams to October 2011, and each plant generally has one external safety review each year, either OSART, WANO peer review, or CNEA peer review (with the Research Institute for Nuclear Power Operations).[20]

The challenge (in the proposed rapid build-out of nuclear power) for the government and nuclear companies is to "keep an eye on a growing army of contractors and subcontractors who may be tempted to cut corners".[9] China is advised to maintain nuclear safeguards in a business culture where quality and safety are sometimes sacrificed in favor of cost-cutting, profits, and corruption. China has asked for international assistance in training more nuclear power plant inspectors.[9]

Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, China announced on 16 March 2011, that all nuclear plant approvals were being frozen, and that 'full safety checks' of existing reactors would be made.[21][22] Although Zhang Lijun, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, has indicated that China's overall nuclear energy strategy would continue,[22] some commentators have suggested that additional safety-related costs and public opinion could cause a rethink in favor of an expanded renewable energy program.[22][23] In April 2011, China Daily reported that approvals for construction of nuclear power plants in marine areas have been suspended.[24] The safety inspections were due to finish by October 2011, and the current status of the projects is unclear.[25] In April 2012, Reuters reported that China was likely to resume nuclear power plants approvals sometime during the first half of 2012. The official target of a capacity of 40 GW by 2020 is unchanged but earlier plans to increase this to 86 GW has been reduced to 70-75 GW due shortages of equipment and qualified personnel as well as safety concerns.[26]

Reactor Technology


The most numerous reactor type under construction is the CPR-1000, with fifteen units under construction as of June 2010, and another 15 approved and proposed. This reactor type is a Chinese development of the French 900 MWe three cooling loop design imported in the 1990s, with most of the components now built in China. Intellectual property rights are retained by Areva however, which affects CPR-1000 overseas sales potential.[7]

On 15 July 2010, China’s first CPR-1000 nuclear power plant, Ling Ao-3, was connected to the grid.[27]


The Westinghouse AP1000 is the main basis of China's move to Generation III technology, and involves a major technology transfer agreement. It is a 1250 MWe gross reactor with two coolant loops. The first four AP1000 reactors are being built at Sanmen and Haiyang, for CNNC and CPI respectively. At least eight more at four sites are firmly planned after them.[14]


In 2007 negotiations were started with the French company Areva concerning the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), third generation reactors. Two Areva EPR reactors are being built at Taishan, and at least two more are planned (see section below on Embarking upon Generation III plants). Areva says the reactors are 4590 MWt, with net power 1660 MWe.

In October 2008, Areva and CGNPC announced establishment of an engineering joint venture as a technology transfer vehicle for development EPR and other PWR plants in China and later abroad. The JV will be held 55% by CGNPC and other Chinese interests, and 45% by Areva. It will engineer and procure equipment for both the EPR and the CPR-1000.

China plans to develop a domestic program to become self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as other parts of the fuel cycle, though they currently operate using imported Uranium. Shu Guogang, GM of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Project said, "We built 55 percent of Ling Ao Phase 2, 70 percent of Hongyanhe, 80 percent of Ningde and 90 percent of Yangjiang Station."[28]

CAP1400 development

In 2008 and 2009 Westinghouse made agreements to work with the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and other institutes to develop a larger version of the AP1000, probably of 1400 MWe capacity, possibly followed by a 1700 MWe design. China will own the intellectual property rights for these larger designs. Exporting the new larger units may be possible with Westinghouse's cooperation.[7]

In December 2009, a Chinese joint venture was set up to build an initial CAP1400 near the HTR-10 Shidaowan site. Construction is expected to start in April 2014.[7][29]

ACPR1000 development

In 2010 the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation announced the ACPR1000 design, a further design evolution of the CPR-1000 to a Generation III level, which would also replace intellectual property right limited components. CGNPC aims to be able to independently market the ACPR1000 for export by 2013.[30]

CANDU-6 Heavy Water reactors

6 heavy water reactors to be located at Qinshan NPP, 3 of them are operational, the other three are still under construction. These reactors do not require enriched fuel, and can use the waste products of other light water reactors as fuel.


Russia's Atomstroyexport was general contractor and equipment provider for the Tianwan AES-91 power plants using the V-428 version of the well-proven VVER-1000 reactor of 1060 MWe capacity. Russia's Energoatom is responsible for maintenance from 2009. Two further Tianwan units will use the same version of the VVER-1000 reactor.

Nuclear power plants under construction

Name Maximum capacity Current phase capacity Construction started Active capacity Scheduled completion Reactor types
Tianwan 8,380 MW 4,080 MW 1999-10-20 20 October 1999 1,980 MW 2018/2019 4 × VVER-1000
2 × CNP-1000
2 × VVER-1200
Ningde 6,108 MW 4,072 MW 2008-02-18 18 February 2008 2,036 MW 2015/2016 CPR-1000 6 × CPR-1000[7]
Hongyanhe 6,122 MW 4,122 MW 2007-08-27 27 August 2007 2,122 MW 2015/2016 CPR-1000 4 × CPR-1000[31]
Yangjiang 6,000 MW 4,000 MW 2008-12-16 16 December 2008 1,000 MW 2014/5/7/8 CPR-1000 4 × CPR-1000[31][32]
2 × ACPR-1000
Qinshan 6,838 MW 5,438 MW 1985-03-2020 March 1985 4,038 MW 2014/2015 PWR, PHWR
Fangjiashan 2,000 MW 2,000 MW 2008-12-26 26 December 2008 0 MW 2014/2015 CPR-1000 2 × CPR-1000[33]
Fuqing 6,000 MW 4,000 MW 2008-11-21 21 November 2008 1,000 MW 2014/5/6/7 CPR-1000 4 × CPR-1000[34]
2 × ACP-1000
Sanmen 6,600 MW 2,200 MW 2009-04-19 19 April 2009 0 MW 2014/2015 AP1000 6 × AP1000[35][36]
Haiyang 8,800 MW 2,200 MW 2009-09-24 24 September 2009 0 MW 2014/2015 AP1000 8 × AP1000[35][36]
Taishan 6,800 MW 3,400 MW 2009-10-28 28 October 2009 0 MW 2015/2016 EPR 4 × EPR [37][38]
Xianning 4,400 MW 2,200 MW 2011 0 MW 2015/2016 4 x AP1000 [39]
Fangchenggang 6,000 MW 2,000 MW 2010-07-30 30 July 2010 0 MW 2015/17/19 6 × CPR-1000
Changjiang 2,440 MW 1,220 MW 2010-04-25 25 April 2010 0 MW 2014/2015 4 × CNP-650
Total 76,328 MW 40,852 MW 12,176 MW


Public opposition

China is experiencing civic protest over its ambitious plans to build more nuclear power plants following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. There has been "inter-provincial squabble" over a nuclear power plant being built near the southern bank of the Yangtze River. The plant in the centre of the controversy is located in Pengze county in Jiangxi and across the river the government of Wangjiang county in Anhui wants the project shelved.[40]

More than 1,000 people protested in Jiangmen City Hall in July 2013 to demand authorities abandon a planned uranium-processing facility that was designed as a major supplier to nuclear power stations. The Heshan Nuclear Power Industry Park was to be equipped with facilities for uranium conversion and enrichment as well as the manufacturing of fuel pellets, rods and finished assemblies. Protesters feared the plant would adversely affect their health, and the health of future generations. As the weekend protest continued, Chinese officials announced the state-run project's cancellation.[41]

By 2014, concerns about public opposition caused Chinese regulators to develop public and media support programmes, and developers to begin outreach programmes including site tours and visitor centres.[42]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Start-up nearing for Chinese units". World Nuclear News. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  2. ^ International Atomic Energy Agency (2011). "Power Reactor Information System: China, People's Republic of". IAEA. 
  3. ^ "World Nuclear Power Reactors & Uranium Requirements".  
  4. ^ Suga, Masumi; Shunichi Ozasa (7 September 2009). "China to Build More Nuclear Plants, Japan Steel Says".  
  5. ^ "China Should Control Pace of Reactor Construction, Outlook Says". Bloomberg News. 11 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Watts (25 August 2011). "WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over China's nuclear safety". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Nuclear Power in China". World Nuclear Association. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "[宁德] 宁德核电站在福鼎开工-图 - 福建之窗". 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  9. ^ a b c d Keith Bradsher (15 December 2009). "Nuclear Power Expansion in China Stirs Concerns". New York Times. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "China to build world's first "artificial sun" experimental device". People's Daily Online. 21 January 2006. 
  11. ^ Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 20 March 2011, Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium, Telegraph UK
  12. ^ "Nuclear Power in China, Updated March 2012, World Nuclear Association". Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  13. ^ Yun Zhou (31 July 2013). "China: The next few years are crucial for nuclear industry growth". Ux Consulting (Nuclear Engineering International). Retrieved 8 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Daogang Lu (North China Electric Power University) (May 2010). "The Current Status of Chinese Nuclear Power Industry and Its Future". E-Journal of Advanced Maintenance (Japan Society of Maintenology) 2 (1). Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Declan Butler (21 April 2011). "Reactors, residents and risk". Nature. 
  16. ^ Tony Vince (8 March 2013). "Rock solid ambitions". Nuclear Engineering International. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "China ups targeted nuclear power share from 4% to 5% for 2020".  
  18. ^ "Maintain nuclear perspective, China told". World Nuclear News (WNA). 11 January 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 
  19. ^ "A Reasonable Grasp of the Scale and Pace of Development of Nuclear Power". Outlook (in Chinese) (Xinhua). 11 January 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  20. ^ "Nuclear Power in China". World Nuclear Association. October 2013. 
  21. ^ By the CNN Wire Staff. "China freezes nuclear plant approvals -". Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c Will China's nuclear nerves fuel a boom in green energy? Channel 4, published 2011-03-17. Retrieved 17 March 2011
  23. ^ China’s Nuclear Energy Program Post-Fukushima China Bystander, published 2011-03-16. Retrieved 17 March 2011
  24. ^ Chris Oliver (6 April 2011). "China suspends waterfront nuclear-power approvals". Market Watch. 
  25. ^ "China urges IAEA to enhance nuclear safeguards". Bloomberg Businessweek. 1 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "Judy Hua and David Stanway, China launches new 650 MW nuclear reactor, 9 April 2012". 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  27. ^ "First power at China’s Ling Ao". Nuclear Engineering International. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  28. ^ "China aims to build its own nuclear power stations". China Central Television. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  29. ^ "New reactor design taking shape in China". World Nuclear News. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "China prepares to export reactors". World Nuclear News. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  31. ^ a b "Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant in Liaoning officially started" (in Chinese). 18 August 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  32. ^ "China Guangdong Nuclear Power: third generation technology is useless to accelerate nuclear power construction for Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station" (in Chinese). 29 January 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  33. ^ "Nuclear Power Station expansion project started excavation for the nuclear island" (in Chinese). 7 April 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b "Fuqing nuclear power plants through the environmental assessment" (in Chinese). 9 March 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  36. ^ a b "Zhejiang Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant nuclear island excavation has been completed" (in Chinese). 12 August 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  37. ^ "Taishan nuclear power project in the second half to three generations of EPR nuclear island foundation with negative digging conditions" (in Chinese). 12 August 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  38. ^ "Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Station was officially launched a project to dig the nuclear island negative" (in Chinese). 27 August 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  39. ^ "China's first inland nuclear power project - Xianning nuclear power plant - enters construction phase" (in Chinese). 15 August 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2011.  (Google translation into English.)
  40. ^ "China faces civic protests over new nuclear power plants". 17 February 2012. 
  41. ^ Calum MacLeod (16 July 2013). "Protesters win environmental battle in China". USA TODAY. 
  42. ^ Lucy Hornby (26 May 2014). "People power holds key to China's nuclear plans". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 

External links

  • Nuclear power in China – World Nuclear Association
  • Maps of Nuclear Power Reactors: China
  • Brief Overview of Chinese NPP Development, Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute, 23 June 2011
  • Steve Kidd (1 May 2013). "Nuclear in China - now back on track?". Nuclear Engineering International. 
  • Caroline Peachey (22 May 2014). "Chinese reactor design evolution". Nuclear Engineering International. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  • M.V. Ramana, Eri Saikawa (December 2011). "Choosing a standard reactor: International competition and domestic politics in Chinese nuclear policy". Energy (Elsevier) 36 (12): 6779–6789.  
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