China and Russia are expected to deepen cooperation in the nuclear power plant sector with a general contract for the construction of Unit 3 and Unit 4 of the Xudabao nuclear power plant to be signed soon.
An announcement released on May 13 by the China National Nuclear Corp, the State-owned nuclear power company, said subsidiaries of the corporation and Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, or Rosatom, will sign a general contract on collaborative construction of two Russian VVER-1200 units at the Xudabao power plant in China’s Liaoning province, worth a total of $1.7 billion, in the near future.
Under the deal, construction of unit 3 of the Xudabao nuclear power plant is expected to start in October 2021, followed by unit 4 in August 2022. The single unit construction period lasts 69 months and the construction interval between the two units is 10 months.
Construction of the two units is part of China and Russia’s agreement to build four nuclear reactors in China at a reported cost of some $3.62 billion, the biggest nuclear energy deal between the two countries over the last decade.
Under the deal, Russia is set to build four generation three-plus VVER-1200 reactors in China: two at the Xudabao power plant in Liaoning and two more at Tianwan in Jiangsu province, which are expected to kick off construction in 2021 and 2022.
Analysts believe China’s nuclear energy efforts are set to go into overdrive after a three-year hiatus, with a few projects expected to go on-stream or start work this year.
China last approved a nuclear project in December 2015 and has since stopped approvals for construction of nuclear reactors.
The National Nuclear Safety Administration approved the debugging of two units in Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant on April 8, after the Ministry of Ecology and Environment released the operating license for units 1 and 2 of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant on April 4, the largest cooperation project between China and France in the energy sector, with two 1,750-megawatt EPR units in its first phase of construction.
Liu Hua, head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, confirmed earlier that construction of nuclear projects will resume this year after the three-year halt in approvals.
According to Joseph Jacobelli, an independent energy analyst and Asia-Pacific CEO of clean energy producer Joule Power, China wants to explore all of the different technologies available, including Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000, the French-designed EPR and Russia’s VVWE 1200.
“China does not solely want next-generation Russian nuclear power technology. The nation’s operators have been looking, and will continue to seek, a variety of options,” he said.
“The country wants a sizable uplift in nuclear installed capacity in the coming decades but wants to ensure an efficient and safe development so it will remain open to all solutions and not focus on just one type of technology.”
Nuclear plants can help meet China’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing air pollution-free energy at a lower cost to consumers, he added.