The most advanced commercial reactor designs from Europe and the United States just delivered their first megawatt-hours in China. Both projects were years behind schedule.
On Thursday, 29 June, a 1,400-MW EPR designed in France and Germany synced up to the grid at the Taishan nuclear power plant. The next day the U.S.-designed 1,117-MW AP1000 delivered first power at China’s Sanmen plant.
The AP1000 is designed to passively cool itself during an accidental shutdown. AP1000 developer Westinghouse declared bankruptcy last year due to construction troubles.
Delays for the EPR contributed to the breakup of Paris-based nuclear giant Areva in 2015. And the first EPR projects in France and Finland remain troubled under French utility Electricité de France (EDF), which absorbed Areva’s reactor business, Fromatome. The Finnish plant, started in 2005 and expected to take four years, is not yet ready.
The troubled EPR and AP1000 projects show that U.S. and European firms have lost competence in nuclear construction and management.