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First 3rd-generation nuclear plant to build in China

The construction of China’s first third-generation nuclear plant, the Sanmen power plant, is set to begin in March, the State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) said on Thursday.

Wang Binghua, State Nuclear Power Technology Company’s chairman of the board, said the plant in east China’s Zhejiang Province was expected to begin generating power by August 2013. It would also become the world’s first AP1000 nuclear plant. The AP1000 technology, designed by the US-based Westinghouse company, is an advanced technology approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but it has never been actually used in any operating power plant. The construction of the Haiyang nuclear power plant in Shandong province using the same AP1000 technology will also begin later this year. The two plants shall have two reactors each. The last of them is expected to be operational by December 12. The SNPTC would buy four third-generation PWRs from the Westinghouse, including its technologies, according to a contract signed last July. Wang said the preparation work was right on track. The SNPTC had received 2.2 tons of technological documents from Westinghouse. In addition, the company had agreed to purchase 4,000 tons of steel sheets from the country’s largest steel maker, the Baosteel, to produce safety shells.

China currently has 11 nuclear generating units in operation. Three of them use domestic technologies, two are equipped with Russian technologies, four with French technologies and two are Canadian designed. All of them employ the second-generation technologies. According to government plan, China will have an installed nuclear power capacity of 40 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for 4% of the country’s total. (