Nuclear reactor put into operation
The No 2 reactor of the second phase project at the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant -- independently designed and built by China -- joined the nation's electrical power grid and began generating power at 12:18 am Thursday.
Li Yongjiang, general manager of the Nuclear Power Qinshan Joint Venture Co Ltd, called the success a milestone on China's way to increasing the proportion of localized technology and design in its construction of new nuclear power generators.
It indicates China is competent to design, construct, manage and operate a nuclear plant with a capacity of 600,000 kilowatts for commercial uses, he said.
China imported three of its four existing power plants from France, Canada and Russia. The second-phase of the Qinshan nuclear power plant in East China's Zhejiang Province is the only one with generators designed in China.
The construction of the second-phase project at Qinshan was started on June 2, 1996, with an investment of 14.8 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) for two reactors.
The No 1 reactor was placed in commercial operations on April 15, 2002 and has so far maintained a safe and satisfactory operating record, generating 9.074 billion kilowatts so far.
Against a backdrop of severe electricity shortages in Zhejiang, the Nuclear Power Qinshan Joint Venture Co Ltd is planning to construct two more reactors, according to Li.
If the plan is endorsed by related governmental departments, the second-phase Qinshan project will be able to provide the area of East China -- one of the biggest electricity consuming regions in the country -- with 16 billion kilowatts during its 40-year lifespan.
Li expressed optimism in winning necessary governmental endorsements, because the country's large-scale electricity shortages over the past several years have caused the government to give green lights for the first time in six years to new nuclear plant construction.
Construction on four new 1,000-megawatt pressurized-water nuclear power facilities in Sanmen in East China's Zhejiang Province and Lingdong in South China's Guangdong Province both expect to start next year.
Under a long-term government plan, China's nuclear power generating capacity by the year 2020 is expected to be four times its current level and reach 36 million kilowatts.
The arrival of the four new nuclear power generators alone is expected to increase the proportion of nuclear power in the country's total electricity from the present 1.3 per cent to more than 4 per cent.