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Westinghouse’s 4th AP1000 reactor starts commercial operation in China

SNL Image

State Power Investment Corp. Ltd.'s two-unit, 2,340-MW Haiyang nuclear power plant in China.
Source: SPIC Ltd.

The second unit of the 2,340-MW Haiyang nuclear power plant in China has begun operating, becoming the fourth AP1000 reactor designed and built by U.S. nuclear developer Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC to come online, announced Chinese-state-owned State Power Investment Corp. Ltd., or SPIC.

Haiyang facility owner SPIC said that the reactor on Jan. 9 completed a test run, operating continuously at full power for 168 hours, and is officially deemed to be in commercial operations. The milestone for the nuclear facility in Shandong Province marks the completion of the newest AP1000 reactor by Westinghouse and its Chinese partner, SPIC subsidiary State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., following recent commercial startups of Haiyang 1 and two 1,117-MW AP1000 reactors at SPIC's Sanmen nuclear power plant outside Shanghai in Zhejiang Province.

The AP1000 has been billed as an advanced, ultra-safe machine that can produce power inexpensively in many settings around the world. According to World Nuclear News, the first AP1000, Sanmen 1, achieved commercial operation in September 2018, nearly nine years after construction began on the project in 2009. Sanmen 2 started commercial operation on Nov. 5, 2018. Construction on Haiyang 1 and 2 started September 2009 and June 2010, respectively, with Haiyang 1 starting commercial operations Oct. 22, 2018.

In a press release, SPIC heralded the completion of Haiyang 2 as an achievement of Chinese President Xi Jinping's "new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics" — or what Western observers call state capitalism — in constructing national power projects. SPIC said Haiyang's two new reactors will generate about 20 TWh of electricity a year, supplying a third of the households in Shandong province.

With the completion of the four AP1000 reactors at Sanmen and Haiyang, SPIC said, mainland China now has 46 nuclear reactors operating with a combined capacity exceeding 45 GW.

Westinghouse's accomplishments in China come amid organizational restructuring of the former Toshiba Corp. subsidiary after Westinghouse emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2018 under the new ownership of Brookfield Business Partners LP, a subsidiary of Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Japanese conglomerate Toshiba sold Westinghouse to Brookfield for $4.6 billion after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 over debt obligations and $6.3 billion in cost overruns from building four other AP1000 units at the Alvin W. Vogtle and V.C. Summer plants in the southeast United States.

While the two new Summer units in South Carolina were scrapped in 2017, work continues on Vogtle's two new units in Georgia, albeit five years behind schedule and at a reported cost of $27 billion. Vogtle 3 and 4, now scheduled to start operations in November 2021 and November 2022 respectively, are the only other Westinghouse reactors now under development in the world, as well as the only nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S.