East China's Shandong Province has the largest number of coal-fired power plants in the country. But soon it will be at the top of another list - nuclear power.
Construction on three nuclear power stations has already broken ground in the province. The first two, Shidaowan and Hongshiding, are in Weihai City, while the other, Haiyan, is in neighboring Yantai City.
Five reactors are initially planned with a combined capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts (MW). The 11 operational nuclear reactors in China now have a total capacity of about 8,000 MW.
Additional Shandong reactors are also on the drawing board. When finished, the sites will comprise the largest nuclear power base in China.
Analysts say it makes sense for Shandong to develop nuclear power as the province needs more electricity to fuel its rapid development.
With environmental protection a pressing issue, Shandong is shutting down small coal-fired power plants. By the end of this year it will have closed plants with a combined capacity of 1,000 MW.
The province has over 800 coal-fired power generating units with a capacity under 100 MW. By the end of 2010, the province will close other small power plants that have a total capacity of 4,000 MW.
As well, as a coastal area, Shandong is suitable for construction of nuclear plants, a source with China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), the nation's largest nuclear company, tells China Business Weekly.
But some residents in the region argue that having three nuclear projects so close together may threaten the environment. They are also worried about safety.
The CNNC source responds by saying all nuclear projects in China will undergo strict studies before they get government approval.
"Safety is always the most important issue for a nuclear power plant," she says.
CNNC is also beginning development of the Hongshiding nuclear project in Weihai City. The company now is doing preparatory studies that range from safety concerns to environmental protection.
The three nuclear projects will use different technologies developed by China as well as foreign countries.
With a reactor generating 200 MW, the Shidaowan plant will use high temperature gas-cooled technology. China Huaneng Group, the nation's largest power company, will develop the project with China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corp (CNECC) and Tsinghua University.
Investment in the project will total 3 billion yuan, with Huaneng funding 47.5 percent, CNECC contributing 32.5 percent and Tsinghua University investing 20 percent.
High-temperature gas-cooled reactors have high efficiency and safety characteristics. The nation's first 10-MW high-temperature gas-cooled experimental reactor was designed and built by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology of Tsinghua University and started successful power generation in January 2003.
The Haiyang and the Hongshiding plants will employ pressurized water reactors, which are the most commonly used in China.
The Haiyang project will have two 1,000-MW reactors using the technology from United States-based Westinghouse Corp.
China this July finalized a contract with Westinghouse to use the company's third-generation technology to build four nuclear reactors in the country, two in Haiyang and another two in Sanmen of Zhejiang Province.
The 11 operational nuclear reactors in China all use first- or second-generation technologies. The four reactors at Haiyang and Sanmen will be the first to utilize third-generation technology.
Westinghouse outbid its main competitor, French nuclear company Areva, after two years of negotiation for the four reactors. No financial figures were disclosed in the final contract, but earlier media reports estimated it at $8 billion.
In November China signed an 8-billion-euro contract with Areva to use the company's third-generation nuclear power technology for two reactors in Taishan in South China's Guangdong Province.
The contract, under which Areva will provide two 1,700-MW reactors, set a record for the French firm.
For the Hongshiding project, developer CNNC has not disclosed which technology will be used, only saying two reactors each with a capacity of 1,000 MW are planned.
CNNC started to build China's first nuclear power plant, Qinshan nuclear power plant phase I, in 1985. The 300-MW reactor in the facility uses the technology developed by China itself.
The company then built Qinshan phase II and phase III. The second phase used domestic technology, while the third employed technology from Canada.
The company now operates seven nuclear reactors in the country.
(China Daily December 25, 2007)