China National Nuclear Corp, one of the country’s three State-owned nuclear power developers, said on May 6 that the pilot unit of the planned Fuqing nuclear power plant will be completed by July 2020.
The construction will start on May 7 on what will be the fifth unit of the Fuqing project in Fujian province, using the Hualong One reactor, the first domestically developed third-generation nuclear reactor design, officials revealed in Beijing.
The State Council approved the construction of the pilot unit at Fuqing on April 15.
Qian Zhimin, CNNC’s general manager, said the announcement marked a milestone for the country’s fledgling efforts at exporting its nuclear technology.
“We are at the stage of finalizing the price of our nuclear reactors for foreign buyers, and we are actively developing markets such as the United Kingdom, Argentina, Egypt as well as other countries in Africa and Europe,” he said.
China has already sold two Hualong One reactors, and closed five framework agreements with foreign countries, of which four are for Hualong Ones, CNNC confirmed without giving any further details.
The company has so far sold one nuclear research reactor, five micro reactors and six nuclear power units to overseas buyers.
Qian said that CNNC’s ongoing plans to export its know-how also represented “a perfect example” of the government’s strategy of developing the “Belt and Road Initiative” with foreign countries.
Many of the possible export destination countries are along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The Fuqing project in Fujian province is at the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road.
China has embarked on a massive nuclear power program in an effort to reduce its reliance on coal.
The country now boasts the largest number of nuclear reactors in the world under construction. This year six to eight nuclear units will be approved, and eight will go online.
Nuclear power generation currently accounts for 2.39 percent of the nation’s total power generation, according to the China Nuclear Energy Association.
In the future officials hope to leverage its growing domestic experience to export not only home-grown nuclear technology but also its manufacturing capacity.
Qian estimated the export value of every nuclear unit of the Hualong One design at around 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion), the equivalent of selling 300,000 automobiles.
But that increases to 100 billion yuan if fuel supply and technical support are included.
Xing Ji, chief designer of Hualong One, said that 85 percent of the equipment for the reactors has been developed in China, and once into mass production, about 95 percent of the equipment used will be supplied by Chinese firms.
He said that the project will follow the very highest international safety standards using features such as double-layer safety shells that can withstand the impact of a large commercial airplane.
“We have improved all the existing emergency plans to ensure safety during construction and operation,” he said.
CNNC, together with its largest peer China General Nuclear Corp, are already in a consortium to invest in two nuclear reactors using Europe-designed EPR technology at Hinkley Point C in southwest England.
The consortium is also planning to take a controlling stake in another nuclear project at Bradwell in Essex, near London using Hualong technology.