China starts construction of demonstration SMR

13 July 2021

Construction officially started today of the ACP100 small modular reactor demonstration project at the Changjiang nuclear power plant on China's island province of Hainan. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said the project will be the world's first land-based commercial SMR. The multi-purpose 125 MWe pressurised water reactor (PWR) - also referred to as the Linglong One - is designed for electricity production, heating, steam production or seawater desalination.

First concrete being poured for the basemat of the ACP100 demonstration plant at Changjiang (Image: CNNC)

The demonstration ACP100 plant is being built on the north-west side of the existing Changjiang nuclear power plant, according to a March 2019 announcement from China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment. The site is already home to two operating CNP600 PWRs, while the construction of the first of two Hualong One units began in March this year. Both those units are due to enter commercial operation by the end of 2026.

CNNC announced in July 2019 the launch of a project to construct an ACP100 reactor at Changjiang. Under development since 2010, the ACP100 integrated PWR's preliminary design was completed in 2014. The major components of its primary coolant circuit are installed within the reactor pressure vessel. In 2016, the design became the first SMR to pass a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The preliminary safety analysis report for a single unit Changjiang demonstration plant was approved in April 2020. Final approval for the construction of the plant was given by China's National Development and Reform Commission in early June this year.

The project at Changjiang involves a joint venture of three main companies: CNNC subsidiary China National Nuclear Power as owner and operator; the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) as the reactor designer; and China Nuclear Power Engineering Group being responsible for plant construction. Construction time is expected to be 58 months. For the demonstration plant, the reactor vessel is being supplied by Shanghai Boiler Works Limited, the steam generators by a CNNC subsidiary and other reactor internals by Dongfang Electric Corporation.

Key project

The ACP100 was identified as a 'key project' in China's 12th Five-Year Plan, and is developed from the larger ACP1000 (Hualong One) PWR. The design, which has 57 fuel assemblies and integral steam generators, incorporates passive safety features and will be installed underground.

A cutaway of a plant based on two ACP100 reactors (Image: CNNC)

Once completed, the Changjiang ACP100 reactor will be capable of producing 1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to meet the needs of 526,000 households, CNNC said.

"Its promotion and application can greatly reduce China's fossil energy consumption, promote energy conservation and emission reduction, and is of great significance for promoting the safe development of nuclear power and independent innovation, and providing a green energy guarantee for the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port and the ecological civilisation demonstration zone," the company said.

"Its construction will surely enable the comprehensive implementation and verification of small reactor technology, accelerate China's independent innovation capabilities in the field of small modular reactors, and serve as a follow-up scale," CNNC said. "It lays the foundation for the construction of industrialisation and mass production, consolidates China's first-mover advantage in this field, and forms China's independent reactor brand."

Future plants

Power plants comprising two to six ACP100 reactors are envisaged, with 60-year design operating lifetime and 24-month refuelling.

CNNC signed a second ACP100 agreement with Hengfeng county, Shangrao city in Jiangxi province, and a third with Ningdu county, Ganzhou city in Jiangxi province in July 2013 for another ACP100 project, according to World Nuclear Association. Further inland units are planned in Hunan and possibly Jilin provinces.

In October 2015, NPIC signed an agreement with UK-based Lloyd's Register to support the development of a floating nuclear power plant using the ACP100S variant of the CNNC design, a marine version of the ACP100. Following approval as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan for innovative energy technologies, CNNC signed an agreement in July 2016 with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to prepare for building its ACP100S demonstration floating nuclear plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News