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Vol.1 No.4 previous GA 11 - 12 - AA SP1 (11 - 12 - 13 - 14) - NT 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 next Vol.2 No.2
General Articles
Vol.2, No.1, GA12
 

The Current Status of Chinese Nuclear Power Industry and Its Future

 
Daogang Lu
North China Electric Power University, Beijing, 102206
 
 

1. Introduction

During the past 30 years, economy of China has being grown strongly. Even in the year 2009, when the world was hit by the financial crisis, China still kept the 8.7% growth rate. GDP of China has reached 4222G USD. This figure makes China to become the third economic giant in the world. All of the world are focusing on the high-speed development of economy in China; meanwhile they also pay much attention on the energy consumption in China. In addition, as one of the policy to keep the stable supply of the energy and to cut off the drain of CO2, China now are building more and more nuclear power stations. Many developed countries are very interested in the big market. Some have already joined in the construction of nuclear power stations in China, while some may concern about the supply of the nuclear fuel, as well as nuclear safety in China.

The present paper will give a close-up view on China status of the energy, especially the nuclear power industry. It is expected that the international community could have deeper and more complete understanding on the nuclear industry in China, moreover cooperate with China to improve the peace and safe utilization of nuclear energy for the sustainable development of the world.

2. General status of the electric power and the government policy on nuclear power

In the past year of 2009, the general electric generation in the mainland of China is 3643G KWh, while the generation from nuclear power is 68.7G Kwh with the share of 1.9%. As shown in Fig. 1, up to the end of 2009, the total capacity of the electric power reached 878 GWe in operation, where the fossil power is 652 GWe with the share of 74.6%; the hydro-power is 197GWe with the share of 22.4%; the windy power is 20GWe with the share of 2.3%; the nuclear power is 8.9GWe with the share of 1.0%; the solar power is 0.2GWe with the share of 0.02%. Compared to 2008, the total capacity of fossil power in 2009 grew with the rate of 8%, while the share decreased with the rate of 1.5% due to the growth of the clean energy.
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.1_The_total_capacity_of_the_electric_power_in_the_mainland_at_the_end_of_2009
 
Fig.1 The total capacity of the electric power in the mainland at the end of 2009
 
The scale of the electricity, as well as the energy in China are very large (just a little less than those in the US). The needs to the energy are still being increased sharply with the strong growth of the economy. For the sustainable development of the society, it is very important to keep the stable supply of the energy.

Energy in China has also some characteristics as follows:
  • Due to the huge number of 1.3 billion populations, the personal averaged energy consumption is still few.
  • The energy relies on the coal so heavy. The coal mines distribute in the north and the west of China, while the economic developed areas are located in the east and the south of China. It costs so much and in some case it may causes many problems (for example in case of the bad climate) for China to transport the coal and the electricity from west to the east, as well as from north to south. So China still need time to make the structure of the energy more reasonable.
  • Techniques in energy engineering are still a little far from the world level although They have been promoted during past 30 years. So China needs more international cooperations.
  • Contradiction between energy and environment is intensive. China needs more new technologies to utilize the coal cleanly, as well as cleaner energies.
  • Energy saving is promoted for effective utilization of the energy, but it is still a little far from the world level.
Accepting above situation, Chinese government has already paid much attention to the stable supply of energy as well as the global climate change. In the beginning of 2010, the highest-level National Energy Commission was established for better coordination in formulating energy strategy and development planning. Premier Wen Jiabo acts as the head of the Commission. The commission will determine national energy development strategy, address significant issues concerning energy security and energy development and coordinate major programs of domestic energy development and global cooperation.

China government has decided to develop more and more clean and renewable energy to change the unreasonable structure of the energy in China. President Hu Jintao has made a declaration that the clean energy will occupy 15% of the total energy in China till 2020.

It becomes the common sense in China that nuclear power is a clean and safe energy. Compared to the windy power and the solar power, it is stable and cheap. So the nuclear power is regarded as the only realistic and effective energy, which can be developed in large scale. It becomes one important choice for the Chinese government to develop actively nuclear power as the key policy for the sustainable development of the Chinese society.

3. Status of nuclear power industry

3.1 Milestones of China nuclear industry

  • In 1954, Foundation of the Ministry of Nuclear Industry indicated the start of China atomic era.
  • In 1958, the first research reactor (101 heavy water reactor) completed.
  • On Oct. 16 of 1964, the first test of the atom bomb completed.
  • On Feb. 8 of 1970,  the nuclear power plan was issued, and the 728 Institute (now called Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute) was founded.
  • On Dec.15 of 1991, Qinshan Nuclear Power Station (first one in mainland of China, designed by 728 Institute) was firstly connected into the electric grid.
  • On Mar. 22 of 2006, China Government issued the "long-term development plan for nuclear power industry (from 2005 to 2020)".
  • In Sep. of 2006, China has made a decision to import the AP1000 type reactor from the US with the technique transfer.
  • On May 22 of 2007, the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation was established to accept the AP1000 technical transfer and to develop Chinese own Gen. III PWR.

3.2 System of the nuclear power industry

In China, presently there are 4 national group companies which take the nuclear power operation, design, R&D, and construction as their main business: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC, former Ministry of Nuclear Industry), China National Nuclear Construction Corporation, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC), State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC). There are 5 national group companies which take the electric power generation as their main business: China Huaneng Corporation (CHC), China Datang Corporation, China Guodian Corporation, China Huadian Corporation, China Power Investment Corporation (CPI). Among them, CPI is presently the only one which was qualified to be able to operate the nuclear power station as an owner. There are 5 national group companies as the makers of the power machines including the nuclear power equipments and machines: Shanghai Electric Corporation, Dongfang Electric Corporation, Harbin Electric Corporation, The First Heavy Industry Corporation and the Secondary Heavy Industry Corporation.

CNNC has the following main companies: China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE, related to research); China Nuclear Power Research and Design Institute ( related to research and design); China Nuclear Power Engineering Company (former BENE, related to design and construction); China Nuclear Power Operation Institute (related to maintenance and operation service); some companies related to the fuel production and spent fuel processing; some of the nuclear power stations such as Qinshan (I), Qinshan (II), Qinshan (III), Tianwan, Fuqing, Sanmen, Hainan, Taohuajinag and so on.

CGNPC has the following main companies: CGNPC Nuclear Power Operation Company (related to operation service); CGNPC Nuclear Power Engineering Company (related to construction); Zhongkehua Nuclear Power Technology Research Institute (related to R&D, maintenance, operation service); some of the nuclear power stations such as Daya bay, Ling’ao, Hongyanhe, Ningde, Yangjiang, Taishan, Dafan and so on.

SNPTC has the following main companies: Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNEPDI, related to design); SNPTC Nuclear Power Operation Company (related to operation service); SNPTC Nuclear Power Engineering Company (related to construction); SNPTC Automatic Control and Instrument Company; Shandong Electric Power Design Institute; SNPTC R&D Center and Demonstration Nuclear Power Station.

CPI has some of the nuclear power stations such as Haiyang, Pengze and so on.

CHC has some of the nuclear power stations such as Shidaowan.

3.3 Nuclear power stations in operation and under construction

As shown in the table 1, presently in the mainland of China, there are 11 units of reactors with the total capacity of 8.9 GWe in operation, while 20 units with the total capacity of 21.9 GWe under construction.
 
Name of Nuclear Power Station Type Power (MWe) Commercial Operation
In operation
Qinshan-1 CNP300, CHINA 300 1993
Daya Bay M310, FRANCE 2×900 Jan. and Jun. 1994
Qinshan-2 CNP600, CHINA 2×600 Apr. 2002 and May 2004
Qinshan-3 CANDU, CANADA 2×728 Dec. 2002 and Jul. 2003
Lingao-1 M310, FRANCE 2×984 May 2002 and Mar. 2003
Tianwan VVER, RUSSIA 2×1000 2004 and 2005
Under construction
Qinshan-2(extension) CNP600, CHINA 2×650 2011 and 2012(to be expected)
Lingao-2 CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2010 and 2011 (to be expected)
Hongyanhe-1 CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2011 and 2012 (to be expected)
Ningde-1 CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2012 and 2013 (to be expected)
Fang jiashan CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2013 and 2014 (to be expected)
Fuqing CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2013 and 2014 (to be expected)
Yangjiang CPR1000, CHINA 2×1000 2013 and 2014 (to be expected)
Sanmen AP1000, USA 2×1250 2014 and 2015 (to be expected)
Haiyang AP1000, USA 2×1250 2015 and 2016 (to be expected)
Taishan EPR, FRANCE 2×1750 2015 and 2016 (to be expected)
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.2_Daya_Bay_Nuclear_Power_Plant
 
Fig.2 Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant[1]
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.3_Tianwan_Nuclear_Power_Plant
 
Fig.3 Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant[2]
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.4_Qinshan_Phase_III_CANDU_nuclear_power-plant
 
Fig.4 Qinshan Phase III CANDU nuclear power plant[3]
 
According to the “long-term development plan for nuclear power industry (from 2005 to 2020)”, till 2020, the total capacity of the nuclear power in operation reaches 40GWe, the total capacity under construction 18GWe. Presently, the figure “40GWe” is expected to be completed till 2015.

3.4 R&D of nuclear power

Even though there is no national program on R&D of nuclear energy so far,  from the roadmap Chinese nuclear industry walked during the past 50 years, it can be seen that the R&D of nuclear energy in China is following a 3-step strategy of PWR-FBR-Fusion reactor and the closed nuclear fuel cycle principle. On Feb. 9 of 2006, China government issued a document named “State long-term science technology development program (from 2005 to 2020)”, in which “ a Large-scale advanced PWR demonstration power station and a HGTR demonstration power station” are listed as one of  “16 national key projects”, while “FBR and Thermal-nuclear fusion reactor” are listed as “the frontier techniques”.

Through the development more than 50 years, as the achievements of R&D, China has constructed the complete system of nuclear industry and a preliminary closed U-Pu cycle system. China already has the capacity to design and construct by itself the 300-MWe PWR and 600-MWe PWR, which are being operated in Qinshan I and Qinshan II. On the basis of M310-type PWR of France, China has also developed a 1000-MWe PWR named CPR1000, which are being constructed in Ling’ao II. Presently R&D of nuclear power in China is focused on the following aspect:
  1. Operation technology for Gen. II nuclear power station

    In order to improve the operation performance (including safety, economy and life time) of the Gen. II nuclear power station, many R&Ds have being performed, for example the low-neutron-leakage core design, the advanced maintenance technology, the 18-month refueling design and the aging management.

  2. Development of Gen. III nuclear power station

    A Large-scale advanced PWR demonstration power station CAP1400 has been designed, which is support by the “national key projects” program.  It is going to be built in Shidaowan, Shandong Province. Improved on the basis of AP1000, CAP1400 is designed with the capacity of 1400 MWe. It is expected to be started in 2013 and completed in 2017.

  3. Development of HTGR

    Supported by the “National Hi-Tech Program (863 program)” ,  a 10-MWt High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTR-10) was completed in the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology, Tsinghua University in 2003. The HTR-10 uses spherical fuel elements (6cm in diameter) with TRISO coated particles. The reactor core contains about 27,000 fuel elements forming a pebble bed. Helium is the reactor coolant. A demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, the HTR-PM of 200 MWe was approved in November 2005, to be built at Shidaowan, Shandong province by a consortium led by the CHC.
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.5_10MWt_HTGR
 
Fig.5 10MWt HTGR[4]
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.6_Pebble_fuel_element_of_HTGR
 
Fig.6 Pebble fuel element of HTGR [4]
 
  1. Development of FR

    Supported by the “National Hi-Tech Program (863 program)”, a 65-MWt fast neutron reactor - China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) - is under construction near Beijing.  CEFR is a sodium-cooled and tank-type fast reactor, which was started in 1998 and is expected to achieve its first criticality in 2010.
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.8_China_Experimental_Fast_Reactor_CEFR.
 
Fig.7 China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR)[5]
  1. Fundamental research on SCWR

    A project named as “Research on the Scientific problems in the Super Critical Water Reactor” was started under the support from the National Fundamental Scientific Research Program (973 Program) in 2007. 3 topics related to cladding material, thermal-hydraulics and the neutron physics are being performed by Shanghai Jiaotong University, North China Electric Power University, Tsinghua University, CGNPC, CNNC and SNPTC.

  2. Development of fusion technology

    The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is a Tokamak with superconductive toroidal field magnets and superconductive poloidal field magnets. EAST has a D-shape cross-section. It will explore some frontier physical issues concerned with the tokamak fusion reactor. EAST project was started in October of 2000 and completed in 2008 in the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Science. China is one of the members to undertake International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) joint international project.
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.9_HL-2A_Tokamak_device
 
Fig.8 HL-2A Tokamak device[7]
 
EJAM2-1GA12-Fig.10_EAST_superconducting_Tokamak_device
 
Fig.9 EAST superconducting Tokamak device[7]
 
  1. Reprocessing of spent fuel

    In China, the strategy on the closed fuel cycle is adopted, the R&D programs on the civi1ian spent fuel reprocessing have been imp1emented. A central wet storage facility with the capacity of 550 tHM for intermediate storage of the spent fuel has completed. The pi1ot plant is under construction. Considering the needs of further development of nuc1ear power, a large-size commercial reprocessing plant was listed into the “national key projects” recently.

  2. Transmutation of MA and LLFP using FR and ADS

    Only some theoretical researches have been performed in the transmutation of MA and LLFP using FR. While a five years program on Accelerator Driven Sub-critical System (ADS), which could transmute the MA more efficiently, has been launched under support of national key basic research development program.

  3. Disposal of high level radioactive waste

    Beishan area in Gansu province of China is the pre-selected area for the high level radioactive waste disposal, where the crust is very stable. Presently 8 granite blocks have been investigated. One of them is Jiujing block, in which two bore holes have been drilled with a depth of 703.8 meters and 500 meters separately.

3.5 Nuclear safety

The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) in China is the licensing and regulatory body for nuclear safety and radioactive safety. It issued policies and programs, administrative regulations rules, standards and criteria on nuclear safety. All these are in agreement with those issued by NRC. The procedures for licesing and surveillance in China are similar to those in the US. NNSA is responsible for the supervision on the licensing, designing, manufacturing, installation, and non-destructive testing of nuclear equipment. It is also responsible for the qualification management of professionals including operators of reactors. NNSA has a Nuclear Safety and Radioactive Safety Center for R&D in nuclear safety and safety review of nuclear facilities, a Nuclear Safety and Environment Protection Expert Committee for consultation, and 7 surveillance stations for the in-site surveillance around the country. It is assured that the safety of all the nuclear facilities in China is under control. China still keeps the good records in nuclear safety so far.

3.6 International cooperation

The histry of Chinese nuclear industry is also a histry of international cooperation. It is well known Daya Bay nuclear power station was constructed under the cooperation from France, while Qinshan III from Canada, Tianwan from Russia, now AP1000 technique transfer from the US. Even in the Qinshan I and Qinshan II which were desiganed and constructed by Chinese itself, the reactor pressure vessels  were imported from Japan. For the R&D of the next generation reactor such as CAP1400, FR, HTGR, ADS, ITER, as well as the fuel cycle techniques, China is keeping close cooperations with the US, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, Korea and so on.

4. Future of nuclear power industry

Some experts gave a prediction for Chinese electric generation and the electric capacity in the future as follows: up to the year of 2020, the general electric generation is 7430G KWh, while the total capacity of the electric power reaches 1650 GWe in operation; up to the year of 2030, the general electric generation is 10450G KWh, while the total capacity of the electric power reaches 2300 GWe in operation.

Some experts in nuclear industry gave a prediction for Chinese nuclear power capacity in the future as follows: up to the year of 2020, the capacity of the nuclear power reaches 82 GWe in operation with the share of 5%; up to the year of 2030, the capacity of the nuclear power reaches 207 GWe in operation with the share of 9%.

Based on the current status and the previous prediction, the future of Chinese nuclear power industry is foreseen as follows;

 CAP1400 will become the dominant type of the reactors used in the nuclear power stations in 2020. The demonstration FBR will be developed in 2020. The commercial FBR will become the main type constructed in the nuclear power stations from 2030. A large-size commercial reprocessing plant will be completed in 2020. The nuclear fuel cycle will be completely closed in 2030.

5. Conclusions

To meet the growth of the economy, energy development and energy security become a national strategy in China. The clean energies, especially the nuclear power are being developed with the highest priority against the global climate change.

Though more and more nuclear power stations are being developed in China, the share of the nuclear power is still low.

R&D of nuclear power in China is following a 3-step strategy of PWR-FBR-Fusion reactor and the closed nuclear fuel cycle principle for the sustainable development of nuclear energy.

The safety of all the nuclear facilities in China is under control.
It is essential to keep the international cooperation for the development of nuclear power in the world.
 

References

  1. [1]ZHENG Bei-xin. Safety culture of nuclear power plant. China Nuclear Power.  2008, 03.
  2. [2]OUYANG Yu. Development strategy and process of world nuclear power states and nuclear power development in China. China Nuclear Power. 2008, 02.
  3. [3]CNNC Qinshan Third Nuclear Power Co.Ltd. . Development by inheritance, innovation by exploiting. China Nuclear Power. 2008, 02.
  4. [4]FU Xiao-ming, WANG Jie. Summary on HTR development in China. Modern Electric Power (in Chinese). 2006, 05.
  5. [5]XU Mi. Fast reactor and sustainable nuclear energy development in China. Modern Electric Power (in Chinese). 2006, 05.
  6. [6]ZHANG Dong-hui. Technical selection for China’s demonstration fast reactor. China Nuclear Power. 2008, 02.
  7. [7]FENG Kai-ming. Controlled nuclear fusion and ITER project. China Nuclear Power. 2009, 03.