Fourth AP1000 In China Hits Commercial Operations Status

As of January 9, at 4 p.m. in China, a fourth Westinghouse designed AP1000 reactor has reached the critical milestone entering commercial operations status, the industry-acknowledged designation assigned to reactors that have proven themselves through a week of full steam operations.

Haiyang Unit 1 under constructionUnit 2 of the Haiyang nuclear power plant in the Shandong province is the fourth AP1000 reactor in China to obtain this status, representing a belated string of successes to Westinghouse, which declared bankruptcy in the summer of 2017, sending the U.S. nuclear industry into shock with the subsequent cancellation of construction of two AP1000 units in South Carolina, amounting to work stoppage at half of the active nuclear plant construction projects in the country.

Reactor construction in the United States has been plagued with delays and cost overruns, which does not appear to be the case in China and with Russian-built reactors in Russia or abroad, owing, perhaps, to the number of units under construction that creates a viable momentum to supply chains and construction management.

In China, there are currently 18 reactors under construction, while in Russia six are in stages of construction, according to Statista, the website. In recently updated data, the World Nuclear Association says there are 50 units under construction around the world with nuclear capacity expected to grow 25 percent from 2016 to 2040. China is expected to create 34 percent of the nuclear capacity’s growth in that period. Meanwhile, 11 Russian-designed VVER-1200 models are slated for Slovakia, Belarus, Bangladesh, Turkey and India.

China is now home to all four operating AP1000 units with the first to reach full power and sustained operations at the Sanmen facility. Sanmen 1 reached commercial status, having run at 100 percent power for 168 hours, on Sept. 21. It was followed by Haiyang 1 on Oct. 22 and Sanmen 2 on Nov. 5. Haiyang 2 followed, reaching first criticality on Sept. 29 and grid connection on Oct. 13.

Westinghouse will have to wait 33 months for the next AP1000 completion story, as the AP1000 units under constructions at Plant Vogtle in Georgia is are not expected to reach commercial operation until November 2021 and November 2022 at the earliest.

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