Sanmen Unit 1 Reaches Initial Criticality

Westinghouse Electric Company announced two major milestones with its AP1000 reactors under construction in China on Thursday. Among the good news for the company, it was announced, along with China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) that the Sanmen Unit 1 reactor in Zhejiang Province had obtained its first successfully completed initial criticality, a first for the Westinghouse designed reactor.

Sanmen NPP Unit 1“Today we completed the final major milestone before commercial operation for Westinghouse’s AP1000 nuclear power plant technology,” said José Emeterio Gutiérrez, Westinghouse president and chief executive officer. “We are one step closer to delivering the world’s first AP1000 plant to our customer and the world – with our customers, we will provide our customers in China with safe, reliable and clean energy from Sanmen 1.”

Along with then news from Sanmen, the company also said fuel assemblies loading had begun at the Haiyang nuclear power facility in Shandong Province, China. 

A step ahead of Haiyang, the Sanment unit, following initial criticality, will be connection to the electrical grid. Once plant operations begin at Sanmen 1, it will be the first AP1000 nuclear power plant in operation.

The design is touted for its passive safety system technology, multiple layers of defense and advanced controls for unequaled reliability and safety. But long delays in getting the initial units from planning to operations was also a key factor in Westinghouse declaring bankruptcy in March 2017.

Westinghouse currently has six AP1000 nuclear power plants progressing through construction, testing and start-up. These projects include two units in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province, China, two units in Haiyang, Shandong Province, China, as well as two units under construction at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Georgia, USA.

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