First CGN Hualong One reactor enters commercial operation

27 March 2023

Unit 3 of the Fangchenggang nuclear power plant in China's Guangxi Autonomous Region has entered commercial operation, China General Nuclear (CGN) announced. The unit is the first of two CGN-designed Hualong One (HPR1000) reactors at the site.

CGN representatives celebrate the entry of Fangchenggang 3 into commercial operation (Image: CGN)

The 1180 MWe (gross) pressurised water reactor completed a 168-hour trial test run at 6.55am on 25 March, "officially meeting the conditions for commercial operation", CGN said.

"Fangchenggang Nuclear will also obtain certificates such as the Electric Power Business Permit as per the relevant requirements," CGN noted in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. "Under normal circumstances, the time when the relevant procedures have been completed will be determined as the time when such unit commences its commercial operation."

First concrete was poured for the nuclear island of unit 3 of the Fangchenggang plant - 39% owned by Guangxi Investment Group and 61% by CGN - in December 2015, while that for unit 4 was poured a year later. Unit 3 was originally expected to start up in 2019, with unit 4 scheduled to start up in 2020. Both their start-ups were subsequently postponed until 2022.

In January 2022, CGN announced that the start-up of Fangchenggang 3 and 4 had been put back again due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It said the start of operation of unit 3 had been put back to the second half of 2022, with that of unit 4 expected in the first half of 2024. However, in December, CGN announced Fangchenggang 3 would not begin operation until the first half of 2023.

The unit achieved first criticality - a sustained chain reaction - on 27 December last year and was synchronised with the grid on 10 January.

The Fangchenggang plant is planned to house six 1000 MWe reactors. The first phase comprises two CPR-1000 units which were put into commercial operation in 2016. CGN said the plant is expected to have an annual power generation of over 34.5 TWh after both the first and second phases of the project are completed and put into operation, which can meet the annual electricity demand of a population of 5.87 million. The carbon dioxide emissions avoided will be about 28.56 million tonnes.

With Fangchenggang unit 3 now in commercial operation, the number of power reactors in operation managed by CGN (including associates) has increased to 27 units and the installed capacity of nuclear power generating units in operation has increased from 29,380 MW to 30,568 MW.

In 2012, central planners in Beijing directed China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and CGN to 'rationalise' their reactor programmes. This meant CNNC's ACP1000 and CGN's ACPR1000 were 'merged' into one standardised design - the Hualong One. In fact, each company has its own supply chain and their versions of Hualong One differ slightly but the design is considered to be standardised.

The first two units of CNNC's version of the Hualong One design at the Fuqing plant in Fujian province have both already started up. Unit 5 entered commercial operation on 30 January 2021, with unit 6 following on 25 March 2022.

Two HPR1000 units have been constructed at Pakistan's Karachi nuclear power plant. Construction began on Karachi unit 2 in 2015 and unit 3 in 2016. These entered commercial operation in May 2021 and April 2022, respectively.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News