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4th generation nuclear power plant coming into use in China

China’s high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) that is under construction in East China’s Shandong province is expected to go online in 2018, an official said last week in Beijing.

The fourth-generation nuclear power plant is also the world’s first 200,000-kilowatt HTGR nuclear power plant demonstration project.

“The HTGR is expected to be connected to the grid and generate power in 2018. China’s HTGR is now at the forefront of the world. It is the first 200,000-kilowatt nuclear power plant to generate power in the world,” said Wang Yiren, deputy director general of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and the vice chairman of China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA).

There were 35 nuclear power units in operation in Chinese mainland with a total installed capacity of 33.65 million kilowatts by the end of 2016, Wang said.

China also started the construction of another 13 nuclear power units during the 12th Five-Year Period (2011-2015), ranking at the top of the world in the scale of construction.

“Almost 40 percent of nuclear power units under construction around the world are in China. Moreover, China’s existing nuclear power units are all in safe and stable operation. I believe through our efforts in the 13th Five-Year Period (2016-2020), we can become the world’s leader in nuclear power,” said Wang.

The HTGR’s power-generating efficiency is 25 percent higher than that of the nuclear power units that are currently in operation in China, and it can greatly cut costs as modular construction can greatly shorten the construction period.

The plants in China are mainly distributed in coastal provinces including Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and the coastal Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

China with 35 nuclear power units in operation ranks fourth after the United States, France, and Russia in the number of nuclear power units in operation; however, it has not built any nuclear power plant inland.

According to Wang Yiren, there are over 400 nuclear power plants in the world with more than half of them at inland and less than half in coastal areas.

All the nuclear power plants are in safe operation, as such, the problem of whether they can operate safely inland or at coastal areas doesn’t exist, Wang added.

“The technology is the same for both coastal and inland nuclear power plants. Those that meet the safety requirements in coastal areas can also do so at inland. So long as the plants operate strictly according to regulations and standards and strengthen security measures, their safety can be guaranteed,” said Wang, adding nor will the inland plants contaminate water sources.

“All these problems can be solved. (The inland nuclear power plants) make water recycled within them for cooling, and do not use water from outside sources (the Yangtze River) for cooling,” said Wang.