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New Westinghouse, Framatome nuke designs start supplying power in China

Two first-of-a-kind nuclear reactors have come online in China within a day of each other. Framatome's 1,660-MW European pressurized reactor started operations June 29 at the two-unit Taishan nuclear power plant in the Guangdong province. On June 30, Westinghouse Electric Co. LLCs first AP1000 reactor connected to the power grid and started supplying electricity outside Shanghai in the Zhejiang province.

Framatome, a subsidiary of French state-owned utility Electricité de France SA, celebrated the milestone as a win for the entire nuclear industry and the company itself, which was sold to EDF in January by France's financially troubled Orano SA, formerly AREVA. Project construction began in 2009 but was plagued with cost overruns and delays. The plant is owned by Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. Ltd., a joint venture between EDF, Guangdong Yudean Group and state- and provincial-owned CGN Power Co. Ltd.

SNL Image

The 2,400-MW Sanmen nuclear power plant along the East China Sea in the People's Republic of China.

Source: Westinghouse Electric Co.

In addition, American nuclear developer Westinghouse and its Chinese state-owned partners State Nuclear Power Technology Corp., or SNPTC, and China National Nuclear Corp. celebrated the initial grid connection of the first of an initial two 1,117-MW units at the Sanmen nuclear power plant.

David Durham, Westinghouse senior vice president for new business projects, said in a press release that it is an exciting time for the industry as Sanmen 1 moves closer to 100% power and commercial operation.

Westinghouse won an estimated $8 billion contract in 2006 to build four reactors at the Sanmen nuclear power plant. Construction began in 2009, with a second 1,117-MW unit also close to being fully built. The Chinese government envisions the entire facility having a final total capacity of 7,500 MW.

Recently, SNPTC lauded the AP1000's "third-generation" pressurized water reactor as "the world's safest reactor technology." Its "advanced passive" design uses gravity and natural heat circulation to passively cool down and, thus, avoid a meltdown.

Westinghouse is building two other AP1000s at the Haiyang project in the Shandong province and another two units at the Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear power plant in the U.S. state of Georgia. The Vogtle expansion project is the only active nuclear project under construction in the U.S. after a sister expansion project was canceled in neighboring South Carolina in 2017 due to cost overruns.

SNPTC is a subsidiary of China's State Power Investment Corp. Ltd.