China Huaneng Group, the nation's largest power company, officially launched the construction of its first nuclear power plant using high temperature gas-cooled reactors yesterday.
It signed an agreement with China Nuclear Engineering & Construction (Group) Corp (CNECC) and Tsinghua University to set up a new company for the operation of the plant.
The Shidaowan plant, which is located in Rongcheng, east China's Shandong Province, will have a capacity of 200 MW (megawatts). The total investment is 3 billion yuan (US$383.8 million).
Seventy percent of the technology used in the project will be developed in China.
Under the agreement, China Huaneng will fund 47.5 percent of the investment, while CNECC and Tsinghua University contributing 32.5 percent and 20 percent respectively.
"The move is an important step for us in the development of nuclear power, as well as China's nuclear power industry," said Li Xiaopeng, president of China Huaneng.
A high-temperature gas-cooled reactor has a high efficiency, security and utility rate, he said.
Today, nuclear plants commonly use pressurized water or boiling water reactors.
Currently worldwide there are five high temperature gas-cooled reactors, and two high temperature gas-cooled reactor power plants with a generating capacity of 300 MW, according to China Huaneng.
China's first 10 MW high temperature gas-cooled experiment reactor was designed and constructed by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology of Tsinghua University and started successful generation in January 2003, said Gu Binglin, president of Tsinghua University.
The construction of the Shidaowan plant will improve the technology levels of China's nuclear power industry, he said.
Earlier, China signed an agreement with US-based Westinghouse Electric Co to build four nuclear reactors in the nation. The deal is estimated at US$8 billion.
Stephen Tritch, Westinghouse's president and chief executive, said the details of the contract to build facilities in Sanmen of the eastern province of Zhejiang, and in Yangjiang of south China's Guangdong Province have yet to be finalized.
He said the company wants the plants to become operational by 2013.
China has chosen Westinghouse's AP1000 technology after careful appraisal, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's economic watchdog.
AP1000, a third generation nuclear technology, relies on gravity rather than mechanical pumps to carry water to a reactor in an emergency.
China's coal power plants today account for about 70 percent of the country's total electricity output.
The government has vowed to promote clean energy sources, such as nuclear power, to meet electricity needs.
China aims to increase the capacity of nuclear power stations to 40 GW (gigawatts) by 2020, accounting for 4 percent of its total electricity capacity.
(China Daily December 26, 2006)