A Double First in China for Advanced Nuclear Reactors – IEEE Spectrum

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.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will Nuclear Power Return?

    Official licensing of one of the first US small modular reactors (SMR) addresses old nuclear plant fears and new climate-change concerns.

    Energy demands are continuing to increase over the coming years. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the world’s population will grow from 7.6 billion in 2017 to 9.7 billion by 2050. According to the World Nuclear Association – an international organization that represents the global nuclear industry – the process of urbanization results in approximately two-thirds of the world’s people living in urban areas by 2050 (up from 55% in 2018). The challenge of meeting rapidly growing energy demand, whilst reducing harmful emissions of greenhouse gases, is considerable. In 2018 global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose by 1.7%, 70% higher than the average increase since 2010.

    Electricity demand growth has outpaced growth in final energy demand for many years. Increased electrification of commercial and industrial markets is one of the key contributors to rising electricity demand.

    Studies have repeatedly shown that nuclear energy is a low-emitting source of electricity production in general, notes the WNA report. It is also specifically low-carbon; emitting among the lowest amount of carbon dioxide equivalent per unit of energy produced when considering total life-cycle emissions. It is the second-largest source of low-carbon electricity production globally (after hydropower) and provided about 30% of all low-carbon electricity generated in 2017. Almost all reports on future energy supply from major organizations suggest an expanded role for nuclear power is required, alongside growth in other forms of low-carbon power generation.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    First major modular nuclear project having difficulty retaining backers

    Earlier this year, the US took a major step that could potentially change the economics of nuclear power: it approved a design for a small, modular nuclear reactor from a company called NuScale. These small reactors are intended to overcome the economic problems that have ground the construction of large nuclear plants to a near halt. While each only produces a fraction of the power possible with a large plant, the modular design allows for mass production and a design that requires less external safety support.

    But safety approval is just an early step in the process of building a plant. And the leading proposal for the first NuScale plant is running into the same problem as traditional designs: finances.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Micro molten salt reactor can fit on a truck, power 1k homes. When it’s built
    Small, safer vessels could be ‘silicon chip’ that ushers in new nuclear age

    As the US Department of Energy (DoE) continues to look for ways to improve molten salt nuclear reactors (MSRs), a team from Brigham Young University in Utah has designed one it says can fit safely in the bed of a 40-foot truck.

    The molten salt micro-nuclear reactor, which – once approved – will be built by Professor Matthew Memmott and his team, has a chamber that measures just four by seven feet (1.2 x 2.1 metres), has no risk of a meltdown, and can produce enough energy to power 1,000 homes, the university said. Prof Memmott separately told The Register the reactor’s output should be around 10MWe.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    They could also make weapons-grade plutonium


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