Monday 14 April 2008

Nuclear Power in China

Most of mainland China's electricity is produced from fossil fuels (about 80%, mainly coal) and hydro power (about 18%). Two large hydro projects are under construction: Three Gorges of 18.2 GWe and Yellow River of 15.8 GWe. Rapid growth in demand has given rise to power shortages, and the reliance on fossil fuels has led to much air pollution. The economic loss due to pollution is put at 3-7% of GDP.

Nationally about 508 GWe was installed (15% growth in 2005) and 2475 billion kWh was generated in 2005. In 2006 some 102 GWe of generating capacity was added - a 20% growth, and a further 91 GWe was added in 2007. About three quarters of the power is used in industry. While coal is the main energy source, most reserves are in the north or northwest and present an enormous logistic problem. The State Power Grid Corporation expects to supply 3810 billion kWh in 2010 from 850-900 GWe . Growth is then expected to slow to 2020, when capacity is expected to reach 1330 GWe. At the end of 2007 there was reported to be 145 GWe of hydro capacity, 554 GWe fossil fuel, 9 GWe nuclear and 4 GWe wind, total 713 GWe.

Because of the heavy reliance on old coal-fired plant, electricity generation accounts for much of the country's air pollution, which is a strong reason to increase nuclear share. China is the second-largest contributor to energy-related carbon dioxide emissions after the USA. The IEA (2004) predicted that its share in global emissions - mainly from the power sector - would increase from 14% in 202 to 19% in 2030, but this now looks conservative.

Moves to build nuclear power commenced in mainland China commenced in 1970 and the industry has now moved to a steady development phase. Technology has been drawn from France, Canada and Russia, with local development based largely on the French element. The latest technology acquisition has been from the USA and France.

Nuclear power has an important role, especially in the coastal areas remote from the coalfields and where the economy is developing rapidly. In 2007 it provided 62.86 billion kWh - 2.3% of total, and there is now 8.6 GWe (net) installed.

The government had planned to increase nuclear generating capacity to 40 GWe by 2020 (of total 1000 GWe then), with a further 18 GWe nuclear being under construction then, requiring an average of 2 GWe per year being added. In May 2007 the National Development and Reform Commission announced that its target for nuclear generation capacity in 2030 was 160 GWe. In March 2008 the newly-formed State Energy Bureau (SEB) said that the target for 2020 should be at least 5% of electricity from nuclear power, requiring at least 50 GWe to be in operation by then. Daya Bay reactors are standard 3-loop French PWR units supplied by Framatome, with GEC-Alstom turbines. Electricite de France (EDF) managed construction, starting August 1987, with the participation of Chinese engineers. Commercial operation of the two units was in February and May 1994. There were long outages in 1994-96 when Framatome had to replace major components. Reactor vessel heads were replaced in 2004. The plant produces about 13 billion kWh per year, with 70% transmitted to Hong Kong and 30% to Guangdong.

Lingao phase 1 reactors are virtually replicas of adjacent Daya Bay in Guangdong province. Construction started in May 1997 and Lingao-1 started up in February 2002 entering commercial operation in May. Lingao-2 was connected to the grid about September 2002 and entered commercial operation in January 2003. The two Lingao reactors use French technology supplied by Framatome ANP, but with 30% localisation. They are now designated CPR-1000. They are reported to have cost $1800 per kilowatt.

Daya Bay and Lingao together comprise the "Daya Bay nuclear power base" under the common management of Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations & Management Co (DNMC), part of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC).

Qinshan-1, in Zhejiang province 100 km SW of Shanghai, is China's first indigenously-designed and constructed nuclear power plant (though with the pressure vessel supplied by Mitsubishi, Japan). Design was by the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute (SNERDI). Construction work spanned 6.5 years from March 1985, with criticality in Dec 1991. It was shut down for 14 months for major repairs from mid 1998.

In October 2007 Qinshan-1 is being shut down for a major upgrade which is expected to take two months - a very short period for what is involved. The entire instrument and control system will be replaced, along with the reactor pressure vessel head and control rod drives. Areva NP is supervising the work, which is likely to lead to life extension beyond the original 30 years.

Qinshan phase 2 (units 2 and 3) are locally-designed and constructed 2-loop reactors, scaled up from Qinshan-1, and designated CNP-600. Unit 2 started up at the end of 2001 and entered commercial operation in April 2002. Unit 3 started up in March 2004, with commercial operation in May 2004.

Qinshan phase 3 (units 4 and 5) use the CANDU 6 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) technology, with Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) being the main contractor of the project on a turnkey basis. Construction began in 1997. They are each about 665 MWe net. Unit 4 started up in September 2002 and unit 5 in April 2003.

Tianwan phase 1 at at Lianyungang city in Jiangsu province is a Russian AES-91 power plant (with two 1060 MWe VVER reactors) constructed under a cooperation agreement between China and Russia - the largest such project ever. The cost is reported to be US$ 3.2 billion, with China contributing $1.8 billion of this. The reactors incorporate Finnish safety features and Siemens-Areva instrumentation and control systems. Completion was delayed due to corrosion in the steam generators which resulted in some tubes having to be plugged with a net loss of capacity of about 2%. The first unit was grid connected in May 2006 and put into commercial operation in June 2007. The second was grid connected in May 2007, with commercial operation in August 2007. Design life is 40 years.

Tenth Economic Plan (2001-2005) - stepping up to Generation-3 technology

The 10th 5-year plan incorporated the construction of eight nuclear power plants, though the timeline for contracts was extended. In May 2004 the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) applied to build eight (4 pairs of) new reactors, four of them for China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC):
Lingao phase 2 (Lingdong) in Guangdong province, to duplicate the CPR-1000 Lingao nuclear plant, based on the same Framatome technology as phase 1.
Qinshan phase 4 in Zhejiang province, duplicating the indigenous CNP-600 units, upgraded to 650 MWe.
Sanmen, in Zhejiang province, using advanced foreign technology and design, and
Yangjiang, in Guangdong province, 500 km west of Hong Kong, similarly (originally).

In July 2004 the State Council formally approved the two CPR-1000 units at Lingao.

The two CNP-600 Qinshan units of 650 MWe were subsequently approved and CNNC announced that the next two there would be 1000 MWe indigenous units (now seen as very unlikely or much delayed).

In September 2004 the State Council approved plans for two units at Sanmen, followed by six units at Yangjiang (two to start with), these to be 1000 or 1500 MWe reactors. The Sanmen and Yanjiang plants were subject to an open bidding process for third-generation designs from overseas, with contracts being awarded in mid 2006 - in the event, mid 2007.

This open bidding process underlines the extent to which China is maiking itself part of the world nuclear industry, and yet somewhat ambivalent about that.

While this process was in train over more than two years, the Guangdong Nuclear Power Group signed contracts with Chinese designers and manufacturers for two CPR-1000 reactors as phase 2 of the Lingao power station. Construction started in December 2005 and the 1000 MWe units (based on Lingao phase 1 designs) are due on line in 2010 and 2011. Unit 1 of Lingao phase 2 (Lingdong) will be 50% localised and unit 2 will be 70% localised, under the project management of China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation (CNPEC), part of CGNPC. Turbine-generator sets are being provided by Alstom.

Construction of Qinshan phase 4 (or second stage of phase II) was formally inaugurated at the end of April 2006, though first concrete had been poured for unit 6 in March. That for unit 7 was poured in January 2007. Local content of the two 650 MWe CNP-600 reactors will be more than 70% and scheduled construction time is 60 months.

Three bids were received for the four Sanmen and Yangjiang reactors: from Westinghouse (AP1000 reactors), Areva (EPR) and Atomstroyexport (V-392 version of VVER-1000). The State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), directly under China's State Council, is in charge of technology selection for new plants being bid from overseas.

The US, French and Russian governments were reported to be giving firm support as finance and support arrangements were put in place. The US Export-Import bank approved $5 billion in loan guarantees for the Westinghouse bid, and the French Coface company was expected similarly to finance Areva for Framatome ANP's bid. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave approval for Westinghouse to export equipment and engineering services as well as the initial fuel load and one replacement for the four units. Bids for both 2-unit plants were received in Beijing on behalf of the two customers: China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co (CGNPC) for Yangjiang, and CNNC for Sanmen (in Zhejiang province). Bids were for the nuclear portion of each plant only, the turbine tenders to be called for subsequently.

Bids were assessed on level of technology, the degree to which it is proven, price, local content, and technology transfer - which apparently became the major factor. Areva and Westinghouse were short-listed, with their third-generation technology. However, the decision on reactor type was delayed, and came under review at the highest political level, with CNNC evidently pushing for the use of indigenous second-generation designs for both sites.

In December 2006, 22 months after the bids were submitted and after several revisions to them, the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design was selected for four units at Sanmen and Yangjiang, later changed to Haiyang in the more northerly Shandong province. This will give China a leading position with late 3rd generation reactor technology and provide the platform for China's further nuclear technology development. SNPTC is responsible for all this and is expected to become the licensee for the AP1000 units, the first of which are expected to be operating at Sanmen in 2013. Project control will be with CNNC for Sanmen and China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) for Haiyang.

At the end of February 2007 a framework agreement was signed between Westinghouse and SNPTC specifying Haiyang in Shandong province (see 11th Plan below) as the site of the second pair of AP1000 units, with Sanmen. In April 2007 Westinghouse signed a US$ 350 million contract with Doosan Heavy Industries in Korea for two pressure vessels and four steam generators. Those for the other two AP1000 units are likely to be made in China: the reactor vessels and steam generators by Harbin Boiler Works, First Heavy Machinery Works, or Shanghai Electric Co (SEC). Korea Power Engineering Co. (KOPEC) and Shanghai Nuclear Energy Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) will have major engineering roles.

In July 2007 Westinghouse, along with consortium partner Shaw, signed the AP1000 contracts with SNPTC, Sanmen Nuclear Power Company, Shangdong Nuclear Power Company (a subsidiary of CPI) and China National Technical Import & Export Corporation (CNTIC). Specific terms were not disclosed but the figure of $5.3 billion for the deal was widely quoted. Sanmen site works commenced in February 2008 and full construction for unit 1 is to start in March 2009, with the first power expected late in August 2013.

Choice of steam turbine generators for the four AP1000 units was by CNNC and CPI, not SNPTC. CNNC selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and partner Harbin Power Equipment Co as supplier for Sanmen, and CPI selected the same suppliers for Haiyang. This will reportedly boost the capacity of the plants from their designed 1175 MWe to 1250 MWe gross. Siemens, Alstom and Mitsubishi were bidding as subcontractors to Chinese firms. In September 2007 Sanmen Nuclear Power Co signed a $521 million contract for two steam turbine generators of 1200 MWe. In January 2008 Shandong Nuclear Power Co. Ltd ordered the same for Haiyang.

In February 2007 it was reported that EdF had entered a cooperation agreement with CGNPC to build and operate a 2-unit EPR power station. This deal was not expected to involve the technology transfer which is central to the Westinghouse contracts, since the EPR has multiple redundant safety systems rather than passive safety systems and is seen to be more complex and expensive, hence of less long-term interest to China. However, negotiations with Areva and EdF dragged on and in August 2007 it was announced that the EPR project had been shuffled to Taishan so that CPR-1000 units could be built at Yangjiang as soon as possible. See Taishan below.

Yangjiang will be the second nuclear power base of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, which has long preferred French technology. Development of the plant was approved in 2004, and site works are well under way. Now that the CPR-1000 has been confirmed as technology for it, construction of the first two or four units is expected to start in mid 2008, for commercial operation in 2013. Yangjiang and a further 14 units, along with six units at Lingao and Daya Bay, will be operated under regional DNMC management.

Choice of turbine generators for the four AP1000 units will be by CNNC and CPI, not SNPTC. In September CNNC selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as supplier for Sanmen, and this will reportedly boost the capacity of the plant from its designed 1175 MWe to 1250 MWe gross. Siemens, Alstom and Mitsubishi were bidding as subcontractors to Chinese firms. The Eleventh 5-year plan 2006-10 has firmer environmental goals than previously, including reduction of 20% in the amount of energy required per unit of GDP, ie 4% reduction per year.

Nuclear power developments originally proposed in the 11th 5-year plan included:
four CPR-1000 units at Hongyanhe, Liaoning province (NE),
two 1000 MWe units at Haiyang, Shandong province (now 1100 MWe AP1000),
two 1000 MWe units at Hui'an/Fuqing, Fujian province,
two units at Hongshiding, Rushan city, Shandong province,
two units at Tianwei, Lufeng in Guangdong province,
two units at Taishan in Guangdong.

In 2007 it was announced that three state-owned corporations have been approved to own and operate nuclear power plants: CNNC, CGNPC and CPI. Any other public or private companies are to have minority shares in new projects. CPI is also expected to determine where the next Generation 3 reactor is built.

Construction of the first unit of the Hongyanhe nuclear power plant in Donggang town at Wafangdian, 100 km north of Dalian, Liaoning started in August 2007, though site works had been under way since July 2006. The cost of all four 1080 MWe CPR-1000 units in phase 1 is put at RMB 50 billion (US$ 6.6 billion). China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation (CNPEC), part of CGNPC, is managing the project - the first nuclear plant in the northeast of China. Shanghai Electric won a US$ 260 million contract for equipment and Alstom is to provide the four turbine-generator sets for US$ 184 million. Commercial operation is planned for 2012-14.

Haiyang in Shandong province, controlled by CPI, had been mentioned as the likely site of further Generation 3 reactors in China, if an early decision was made to buy two EPR units. However, this became the second site for a pair of Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. The Shandong Nuclear Power Company Ltd was set up in 2004 as a subsidiary of CPI to build and operate the $3.25 billion Haiyang nuclear power project. Work on the site has started and first concrete is expected about September 2009.

Construction of the 6-unit Ningde nuclear power plant apparently commenced in November 2007. This is at Qinyu, Ningde city in northeast of Fujian province and phase 1 comprises four CPR-1000 units costing $7.145 billion. Construction was approved by the National Development & Reform Commission in September 2006, and local content will be over 70%. CGNPC expects commercial operation of the first unit in 2012, with the others following to 2015.

The Taishan nuclear plant in Guangdong province was planned by CGNPC to have six 1000 MWe class units but will now host Areva's 1600 MWe EPR units, starting with two of them. In November 2007 Areva finalised a contract with CGNPC for the first two nuclear units plus supply of fuel to 2026 and other materials and services for them. Steam turbines and generators will be purchased separately. CGNPC and Areva are also setting up a 50-50 engineering joint venture as a technology transfer vehicle for development of this and future EPR plants in China and perhaps abroad, building on Areva's European experience.

EdF will take a 30% share in the Taishan project as joint venture partner with CGNPC in the Taishan Nuclear Power Company which will oversee the building, then own and operate the plant. The whole project, including fuel supply, totals EUR 8 billion, of which the nuclear reactors themselves are reported to be about EUR 3.5 billion. (EdF is project manager and architect for the Flamanville-3 EPR project in France, and this initiative consolidates its change in corporate strategy outside France as expressed already in the UniStar JV set up in mid 2007 with Constellation in USA to build, own and operate a fleet of US-EPRs in North America.)n February 2006 an agreement was signed between CNNC and China Huadian Corp for the first two units of Hui'an plant at Fuqing in Fujian, costing US$ 2.8 billion and the Fujian Fuqing Nuclear Co Ltd was set up in May 2006. CNNC is responsible for the project.

In July 2006 a US$ 3.1 billion agreement was signed for construction of the first two units (of 6) of the Bailong nuclear plant in Fangchenggang city of Guangxi autonomous region of south China, with CGNPC expecting construction to start by end of 2010.

In October 2006 a preliminary agreement for two further 1060 MWe AES-91 (VVER-1000) reactors at Tianwan (Lianyungang) in Jiangsu province was signed with Russia's Atomstroyexport. Construction was to start when both the first two units were commissioned, and hence in November 2007 a further agreement for their actual construction was signed.

In November 2006 an agreement was signed by CNNC to proceed with the first two units of Rushan nuclear plant at Hongshiding near Weihai in Shandong province, costing US$ 3.2 billion, with construction to begin in 2009 and first power in 2015. Six units totaling 6000-8000 MWe are envisaged at the site.

The Wuhu nuclear plant at Wuhu in Anhui province is planned to have six 1000 MWe units to be constructed in phases. CGNPC's proposal for two units of phase 1 has been submitted and some preparatory work is under way. It is not clear whether this is the same project as Bamaoshan.

CGNPC says that the 2nd Lianyungang nuclear power project is planned by it with four units of 1000 MWe class to be constructed in phases. This is in Lianyungang City of Jiangsu province apparently alongside CNNC's Tianwan plant and involving the Jiangsu Nuclear Power Company. A project proposal has been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission. Preparations for the project are undergoing as planned, according to CGNPC.

CGNPC expects to spend US$ 9.5 billion on its Lingao-2, Yangjiang and Taishan nuclear power plants by 2010 and to have 6000 MWe on line by then. Work is under way at all these sites and also at Ningde. It is also accelerating efforts to start on the Lufeng plant in Shanwei and Wuhu in Anhui province. It is expecting to have 34,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020, providing 20% of the province's power, and 16,000 MWe under construction then.

A demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, the HTR-PM of 200 MWe was approved in November 2005, to be built at Shidaowan, near Rongcheng in Shandong province by a consortium led by the China Huaneng Group Co. - the country's largest generating utility but hitherto without nuclear capacity It is now being licensed and key components will be ordered in 2007 for construction start in 2009 and commissioning by 2013. This will be the demonstration plant for 18 further modules at the site, total 3800 MWe. (see also R&D section below)

In November 2007 China Huaneng Group or the Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Company signed an agreement with CGNPC to build four large reactors, probably CPR-1000, at Shidaowan in Shandong province in an $8 billion deal. Further partners may become involved as National Development and Reform Commission approval is sought. Construction is expected to start in 2012-13.

CNNC said in December 2006 that it planned to build four 100 MWe units at Heyuan, inland in NE Guangdong, at a cost of US$ 6.4 billion, but no timing was mentioned.More than 16 provinces, regions and municipalities have announced intentions to build nuclear power plants in the twelfth 5-year plan 2011-15. These include Henan and Sichuan, as well as those tabulated above - most of which have preliminary project approval by the central government but are not necessarily scheduled for construction. Provinces will put together firm proposals with reactor vendors by 2008 and submit them to the central government's National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) for approval before 2010.

In 2006 CNNC signed agreements in Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong and Hunan provinces and six cities in Hunan, Anhui and Guangdong provinces to develop nuclear projects. CNNC has pointed out that there is room for 30 GWe of further capacity by 2020 in coastal areas and maybe more inland such as Hunan "where conditions permit". In October 2007 CNNC's list of projects included Chuanshan (Jiangsu province), Jiyang (Anhui), Hebao Island (Guangdong), Shizu (Chongqing), Xudabao (Liaoning) and Qiaofushan (Hebei) as well as others tabulated above.
The complex ownership structure of Chinese nuclear plants is described in the Organisation section below.

Reactor technology

China has set the following points as key elements of its nuclear energy policy:

* PWRs will be the mainstream but not sole reactor type.
* nuclear fuel assemblies are fabricated and supplied indigenously.
* domestic manufacturing of plant and equipment will be maximised, with self-reliance in design and project management.
* international cooperation is nevertheless encouraged.

The technology base for further reactors remains officially undefined, though according to Nucleonics Week the two year struggle between the established CNNC pushing for indigenous technology and the small but well-connected State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC) favouring imported technology was won by SNPTC. In particular SNPTC proposes use of indigenized 1000+ MWe plants with advanced third-generation technology, arising from Westinghouse AP1000 designs built at Sanmen and Haiyang.

In September 2006 the head of the China Atomic Energy Authority said that he expected large numbers of third-generation PWR reactors derived from foreign technology to be built from about 2016, after experience is gained with the initial Sanmen and Haiyang AP1000 plants. A report suggests that the Westinghouse AP1000 will be boosted, perhaps to 1400 MWe, under the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) for large-scale deployment and possibly export (with Westinghouse agreement). The agreement with Westinghouse is for the company to transfer technology over the first four units so that SNPTC can build the following ones on its own. However, it would not be able to export the units unless the design was substantially modified by SNERDI.

CNNC had been working with Westinghouse and Framatome ANP (Areva NP) at the Shanghai Nuclear Energy Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) since the early 1990s to develop a Chinese standard 3-loop PWR design, the CNP-1000 based on Qinshan units, with high (60 GWd/t) burn-up and 18 month refueling cycle. CNNC has been keen to create its own brand of advanced second-generation reactor such as this with intellectual property rights, and wanted to build two initial CNP-1000 plants at Fangjiashan near Shanghai in the 11th Economic Plan, though the design probably would not have been ready. In early 2007 the CNP-1000 development was stalled indefinitely, and SNERDI resources transferred to the AP1000 program, though this will create a problem in relation to export plans for two CNP-1000 units to Pakistan.

Guangdong Nuclear Power's indigenous focus has been on the French-derived 3-loop units such as at Lingao, without major modification, and now called CPR-1000 or "improved Chinese PWR". However, Areva retains intellectual property rights for this. It seems that the CPR-1000 will be widely and relatively quickly deployed for domestic use under CGNPC leadership.

In September 2005 Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) signed a technology development agreement with CNNC which opened the possibility of it supplying further Candu-6 reactors. The agreement introduced a new element into the discussion on 2005 plans outlined above. AECL built the Qinshan phase III 2-unit plant on schedule and under budget and estimates that it could be replicated for 25% less cost. Any replication would be on the basis of involving local engineering teams, not on a turnkey basis, but the technology is now well understood and the decades-old Candu-6 design would likely pose less problems for technology transfer than state of the art 3rd-generation designs from Westinghouse and Areva NP. The later Korean Candu-6 plants at Wolsong had 75% local content. However, the agreement with CNNC - more specifically with its SNERDI - did look further forward to collaboration on AECL's new ACR design later on. However, SNERDI is now focused on AP-1000 engineering and reassigned to SNPTC, so early in 2008 work on Candu fuel technologies passed to another CNNC entity: the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC).

Having so far left the Chinese reactor market to others, GE has been commending its new reactor designs for the next tranche of orders there. China has expressed interest in the ABWR, though it has had a de facto policy of favouring pressurised water designs, but GE will offer its two boiling water types - the ABWR which is operating in Japan and under construction there and elswhere, and the newer ESBWR which features strongly in US plans for new capacity. GE Nuclear and its Japanese partners have been in discussion with CNNC and provincial governments.

In February 2006 the State Council announced that the large advanced PWR and the small high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR) are two high priority projects for the next 15 years. The former will depend on "Sino-foreign cooperation, in order to master international advanced technology on nuclear power and develop a Chinese third-generation large PWR". CNNC has confirmed this, while pointing longer-term to fast neutron reactors (see R&D section below).

The small HTR units will be 200 MWe reactors with pebble bed fuel, similar to that being marketed by South Africa. See R&D section below.

The China Zhongyuan Engineering Corporation is involved with preparations to construct a 300 MWe nuclear power plant at Chasma in Pakistan - a twin to that already commissioned in 2000.

A 200 MWt NHR-200 integral PWR reactor for heat and desalination has been designed and engineering studies concluded in mid 2006.

Longer-term, fast breeder reactors are seen as the main technology. A 65 MWt fast neutron reactor is under construction near Beijing and due to achieve criticality in 2008. CNNC expects the technology to become predominant by mid century.

Uranium resources and mining

China's known uranium resources of 70,000 tU are theoretically sufficient to fill the requirements for the mainland nuclear program for the short-term. Production of some 840 t/yr - including that from heap leach operations at several mines in Xinjiang region - supplies about half of current needs. The balance is imported (reportedly from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Namibia). The Fuzhou mine in the southeastern Giangxi province is in a volcanic deposit. Xinjiang's Yili basin in which the Yining (or Kujiltai) ISL mine sits is contiguous with the Ili uranium province in Kazakhstan, though the geology is apparently different. The other three mines are in granitic deposits.

China Nuclear Uranium Corporation plans to bring into production a new 200 tU/yr mine at Fuzhou, and expand the Yining ISL mine to 300 tU/yr. Pilot ISL tests have been under way on the Shihongtan deposit in the Turpan-Hami basin of Xinjiang. In addition, the Hengyang underground uranium mine is on stand-by. The mine, which started up in 1963, has a nominal production capacity of 500-1000 tU/yr.

CNNC's Bureau of Geology and the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology are the key organisations involved with a massive increase in exploration effort since 2000, focused on sandstone deposits amenable to ISL in the Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia regions.

With the prospective need to import much more uranium, China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (SinoU) was set up by CNNC to acquire uranium resources internationally. It is setting up a mine in Niger and is investigating prospects in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Algeria. Sinosteel Corporation holds minor equity in explorer PepinNini Minerals Ltd in Australia and has 60% of a joint venture with PepinNini to develop a uranium deposit in South Australia. A bilateral safeguards agreement will allow import from Australia. Canada and South Africa are also seen as potential suppliers.

In September 2007 two agreements were signed in Beijing between Kazatomprom and CGNPC on Chinese participation in Kazakh uranium mining joint ventures and on reciprocal Kazatomprom investment in China's nuclear power industry. These came in the context of an earlier strategic cooperation agreement and one on uranium supply and fuel fabrication. This is a major strategic arrangement for both companies, with Kazatomprom to become the main uranium and nuclear fuel supplier to CGNPC. A framework strategic cooperation agreement was then signed with CNNC.

In November 2007 CGNPC signed an agreement with Areva to take a 24.5% equity stake in its UraMin subsidiary which is proposing mines in Namibia, South Africa and Central African Republic. (This appears to be part of the EUR 8 billion Taishan deal - see above.) Areva also agreed to buy 35% of the uranium from UraMin over the lifetime of the three deposits - the total quantity involved is 20,000 tU.

In 2007 CNNC commissioned Sparton Resources of Canada with the Beijing No.5 Testing Institute to undertake advanced trials on leaching uranium from coal ash out of the Xiaolongtang power station in Yunnan. The ash contains 160-180 ppm U - above the cut-off level for some uranium mines. The power station ash heap contains over 1700 tU, with annual arisings of 106 tU. Two other nearby power stations burn lignite from the same mine.

Fuel cycle - front end

A conversion plant is operating at Lanzhou, of about 1500 tU/yr, and another at Diwopu, also in Gansu province, of about 500 tU/yr.

In 2010 China will need 3600 tU and 2.5 million SWU of enrichment. In 2020 it expects to need 10,000 tU and 7 million SWU.

A Russian centrifuge enrichment plant at Hanzhun, SE Shaanxi province, was set up under 1992, 1993 and 1996 agreements between Minatom/ Tenex and China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) covering a total 1.5 million SWU/yr capacity in China. The first modules at Hanzhun came into operation in 1997-2000, giving 0.5 million SWU/yr. In November 2007 Tenex undertook to build a further 0.5 million SWU of capacity at Hanzhun, completing the 1990s agreements. The site is under IAEA safeguards. Up to 2001 China was a major customer for Russian 6th generation centrifuges, and further supplies of these are scheduled from 2008.

The Lanzhou enrichment plant in Gansu province to the west started in 1964 for military use and operated commercially 1980 to 1997 using Soviet-era diffusion technology. A Russian centrifuge plant of 500,000 SWU/yr started operation there in 2001 and it is designed to replace the diffusion capacity.

A contract with Urenco supplies 30% of the enrichment for Daya Bay from Europe, and Tenex has agreed to supply SWU as low-enriched uranium to China from 2010 to 2021.

CNNC's PWR fuel fabrication plant at Yibin, Sichuan province, supplies Qinshan-1 with 11 tonnes a year of fuel assemblies. A second production line was established in the same factory to supply 26 tonnes per year of fuel assemblies to the Daya Bay units. Over 2003-06 enrichment for Lingao is being increased from 3.2% to 4.45%. The Yibin plant is expected to expand.

For CANDU: after the initial core loading of Canadian fuel at the PHWRs, subsequent fuel assemblies will be supplied by Baotou fuel factory. The CANDU fuel production line project was launched in April 1999.

In order meet its goal of being self-sufficient in nuclear fuel supply, additional fuel production capacity will be required. However, the fuel for Taishan being supplied to CGNPC by Areva, comprising the two first cores and 17 reloads, will be fabricated in France.

Used fuel and reprocessing

When China started to develop nuclear power, a closed fuel cycle strategy was also formulated and declared at an IAEA conference in 1987. The spent fuel activities involve: at-reactor storage; away-from-reactor storage; and reprocessing. CNNC has drafted a state regulation on civil spent fuel treatment as the basis for a long-term government program.

Based on expected installed capacity of 20 GWe by 2010 and 40 GWe by 2020, the annual spent fuel arisings will amount to about 600 tonnes in 2010 and 1000 tonnes in 2020, the cumulative arisings increasing to about 3800 tonnes and 12 300 tonnes, respectively. The two CANDU units, with lower burn-up, will discharge 176 tonnes of spent fuel annually.

Construction of a centralised spent fuel storage facility at Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex in Gansu province began in 1994. The initial stage of that project has a storage capacity of 550 tonnes and could be doubled.

A pilot (50 t/yr) reprocessing plant using the Purex process was opened in 2006 at Diwopu in Gansu province. This is capable of expansion to 100 t/yr and will be fully operational in 2008. A large commercial reprocessing plant based on indigenous advanced technology is planned to follow and begin operation about 2020. This is likely to be under international safeguards.

In November 2007 Areva and CNNC signed an agreement to assess the feasibility of setting up a reprocessing plant for used fuel and a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant in China, representing an investment of EUR 15 billion. Some further decision on this is expected in mid 2008.

High-level wastes will be vitrified, encapsulated and put into a geological repository some 500 metres deep. Site selection is focused on six candidate locations and will be completed by 2020. An underground research laboratory will then operate for 20 years and actual disposal is anticipated from 2050.

Early in 2008 CCNC subsidiary the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) signed an agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) to undertake research on advanced fuel cycle technologies such as recycling recovered uranium from spent PWR fuel and Generation IV nuclear energy systems. Initially this seems to mean DUPIC, the Direct Use of spent PWR fuel In Candu reactors, the main work on which so far has been in South Korea. Reconstituted PWR spent fuel with up to 1.6% fissile content is used directly as Candu fuel.

There is already industrial-scale disposal of low and intermediate-level wastes at two sites, in the northwest and at Bailong in Guangxi autonomous region of south China.

Research & Development

A 10 MWt high-temperature gas-cooled demonstration reactor (HTR-10), having fuel particles compacted with graphite moderator into 60mm diameter spherical balls (pebble bed) was commissioned in 2000 by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University near Beijing. It reached full power in 2003 and has an outlet temperature of 700-950°C and may be used as a source of process heat for heavy oil recovery or coal gasification. It is similar to the South African PBMR intended for electricity generation. It was subject to a test of its intrinsic safety in September 2004 when as an experiment it was shut down with no cooling. Fuel temperature reached less than 1600°C and there was no failure.

Initially the HTR-10 has been coupled to a steam turbine power generation unit, but second phase plans are for it to operate at 950°C and drive a gas turbine, as well as enabling R&D in heat application technologies. This phase will involve an international partnership with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), focused particularly on hydrogen production.

A key R&D project is the demonstration Shidaowan HTR-PM of 200 MWe (two reactor modules, each of 250 MWt) which is being built at Shidaowan in Shandong province, driving a steam turbine at about 40% thermal efficiency. China Huaneng Group, one of China's major generators, is the lead organization in the consortium with China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group and Tsinghua University's INET, which is the R&D leader. Chinergy is the main contractor for the nuclear island. Projected cost is US$ 385 million, with the aim for later units being US$ 1500/kWe. The licensing process is under way with NNSA and completion is expected in 2013.

The HTR-PM will pave the way for 18 (3x6) further units at the same site or Weihai - total 3800 MWe - also with steam cycle. Then a series of HTRs, possibly with Brayton cycle directly driving the turbines, will be factory-built and widely installed throughout China.

In March 2005 an agreement between PBMR of South Africa and Chinergy of Beijing was announced. PBMR Pty Ltd is has been taking forward the HTR concept (based on earlier German work) since 1993 and is ready to build a 125 MWe demonstration plant. Chinergy Co. is drawing on the small operating HTR-10 research reactor at Tsinghua University which is the basis of the 195 MWe HTR-PM demonstration unit which also derives from the earlier German development.

Both PBMR and HTR-PM are planned for operation about 2010. The new agreement is for cooperation on the demonstration projects and subsequent commercialisation, since both parties believe that the inherently safe pebble bed technology built in relatively small units will eventually displace the more complex light water reactors. Chinergy is a 50-50 joint venture of Tsinghua University's INET and CNEC.

A 65 MWt fast neutron reactor - the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) - is under construction at China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) near Beijing and due to achieve criticality in 2009. There has been some Russian assistance in its development. R&D on fast neutron reactors started in 1964. A 600 MWe prototype fast reactor is envisaged by 2020 and there is talk of a 1500 MWe one by 2030.

A 200 MWt NHR-200 integral PWR has been developed by INET near Beijing for desalination and district heat. It is developed from the NHR-5 prototype which started up in 1989.

About ten other research reactors ranging up to 15 MW, and one 125 MW test reactor (HFETR), are operational.

The NDRC is strongly supporting R&D on advanced fuel cycles which will more effectively utilise uranium, and possible also use thorium. The main research organisations are INET at Tsinghua University, CIAE and the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) at Chengdu. INET is looking at a wide range of fuel cycle options including thorium, especially for the Qinshan 3 PHWR units. However, NPIC is the main body focused on the PHWR technology and fuel cycles, supported by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. It is looking at use of reprocessed uranium in Qinshan's PHWR reactors. CIAE is mainly involved with fast reactor R&D.

Organisation - national

Under the State Council of Ministers, the China Atomic Energy Agency (CAEA) is responsible for planning and managing the peaceful use of nuclear energy and promoting international cooperation. . Since being split from the old CNNC in 1998, the CAEA has been the key body planning and managing civil nuclear energy and reviewing and approving feasibility studies for new plants. It is under the control of the Commission for Science, Technology & Industry for National Defence under the State Council.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as the economic planning agency is finally responsible for project approval, and since it was split off from CNNC in 1998 it also has reported to the Commission for Science, Technology & Industry for National Defence under the State Council.

In March 2008 the formation of a new State Energy Bureau (SEB) was announced. It is to draft an integrated energy development strategy complete with various programs and then monitor and implement its execution. It will act under the NRDC and promote favoured forms of energy and encourage conservation. It is not yet clear how it will relate to other national energy entities, but its first announcement was that nuclear energy should provide significantly more power by 2020 than previously planned.

The State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) ) was set up in 2004 to take charge of technology selection for new plants being bid from overseas. This is through its Preparatory Office which draws expertise from other organizations such as CGNPC. SNPTC is directly under China's State Council and closely connected with it.

The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) under CAEA was set up in 1984 and is the licensing and regulatory body which also maintains international agreements regarding safety. It now reports to the State Council directly.

In May 2007 a memorandum of understanding between the NNSA and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission was signed regarding Westinghouse's AP1000 reactor design. The AP1000 gained US design certification in 2005 and Westinghouse has applied for pre-licensing design approval for it in UK, expressing its policy of global standardisation.

The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) is responsible for radiological monitoring and radioactive waste management. A utility proposing a new plant submits feasibility studies to the CAEA, siting proposals to the NNSA and environmental studies to SEPA.

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) controls most nuclear sector business including R&D, engineering design, uranium exploration and mining, enrichment, fuel fabrication, reprocessing and waste disposal. It also claims to be the major investor in all nuclear plants in China. Established by the State Council in 1988 as a self-supporting economic entity, it "combines military production with civilian production, taking nuclear industry as the basis while developing nuclear power and promoting a diversified economy." It has numerous subsidiaries. CNNC designed and built Qinshan 1-3 and controls the full Qinshan power plant. It has a payroll of about 1000,000 and owns shares in most of the nuclear power generation projects (see below). In particular it is a champion of local designs.

China Power Investment Corporation (CPI, formed from the State Power Corporation and inheriting all its nuclear capacity) is a major power generator and is the largest state-owned nuclear power investment and operating organisation. At the end of 2004 it was reported to have assets of US$ 12.8 billion. It was at the forefront of discussions on plants for the 11th five-year plan, and by mid 2005 had submitted power projects with the total capacity of 31,460 MW to the State Development and Planning Commission for approval.

In Guangdong province and now more widely the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group , comprising some 20 companies and with assets of RMB 60 billion, plays the leading role. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company (CGNPC) leads this Group which is responsible for Daya Bay, Ling Ao, Yangjiang, Hongyanhe and Ningde power stations as well as further projects in the province and outside it. CGNPC was esteblished in 1994 and is 45% owned by the provincial government (via Guangdong Nuclear Power Co), 45% by CNNC and 10% by CPI. There is 25% Hong Kong equity in the Daya Bay plant.

China HuaNeng Group (CHNG), is one of China's major generators, with about 50 GWe in operation. It is becoming involved with nuclear power, with two projects in Shandong province (see below). It is an independent state-owned but incorporated business entity focused on power generation. It aims to have 80 GWe installed by 2010 and 120 GWe by 2020.

China National Uranium Corporation is responsible for CNNC's uranium exploration domestically. In December 2006 China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (SinoUranium) was set up by CNNC to acquire uranium resources internationally. It is active in Niger, is setting up a mine in Niger and is investigating prospects elsewhere. Sinosteel is another state-owned entity with equity in an Australian uranium explorer and 60% joint venturer with it in developing a mine, hoping to sell product to the Chinese nuclear industry.

The China Nuclear Engineering and Construction group (CNEC or CNECC) is a major state entity split off from the rest of CNNC in 1998 and responsible for nuclear plant construction (including that in Pakistan).

CNEC is closely linked with the Beijing Institute of Nuclear Engineering (BINE), a CNNC subsidiary responsible for basic design of reactors. It is based in the Haidian university precinct north of Beijing and has 1800 staff.

China Nuclear Engineering Co was set up by CNNC in 2006 to rationalise design work for new nuclear plants as well as to help win overseas orders for nuclear plants. It is built on the technology basis of BINE and is also responsible for the construction, equipment procurement, trial testing and operational maintenance of nuclear power plants. Future project design will move from BINE to China Nuclear Engineering, allowing BINE to concentrate on technology planning.

The Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) is based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and is part of CNNC. It was set up in 1958 for nuclear reactor engineering research, design, testing and operation and has 3700 staff. Its R&D now takes in the Candu design used at Qinshan, and in particular, aspects of its fuel cycle.

The Shanghai Nuclear Energy Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) was part of CNNC and worked with BINE and NPIC in detailed design work for the AP1000 projects. However, SNERDI has been reassigned to SNPTC and is remains dedicated to AP1000 design work. (It also worked closely with AECL on reactor engineering for the Qinshan Candu reactors.)

The China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) is a CNNC subsidiary established in 1980 as a trading company authorized to carry out import and export trade of uranium products, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear power and technology equipment. It acted as agent in establishing Qinshan and Tianwan power plants. In Guangdong the China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation (CNPEC), part of CGNPC and set up in 2004, plays the leading reactor engineering role. China Nuclear Power Design Co is another CGNPC subsidiary, responsible for feasibility studies and designs.

Areva Dongfang is a joint venture of Areva with DongFang Electric Corporation (DEC), part of CGNPC, is a high--profile state-owned company specialising in power equipment manufacturing. It had supplied 110 GW of generating equipment over 20 years to the end of 2005. Areva also has a 2005 joint venture with Dongfang Electrical Machinery Company Ltd (DFEM) - Areva Dongfang Reactor Coolant Pumps, localising the manufacture of pumps.

The China Institute of Atomic Energy is responsible for R&D on vitrification of high-level wastes. The China Institute for Radiation Protection is responsible for R&D on decommissioning.

Planning for major nuclear energy research projects is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST).

The Chinese Nuclear Society is to focus on nuclear science popularization and education in 2006.

Organisation - power plants

Daya Bay is owned by Guangdong Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co Ltd, and Lingao by the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Co Ltd. Both sites are run by Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations & Management Co Ltd (DNMC) which was formed in 2003 and is 50% owned by each company.

Qinshan is a CNNC enterprise. Phase 1 is owned by Qinshan Nuclear Power Co, phase 2 (including units 6 & 7) is owned by Qinshan Nuclear Power JV Co Ltd, with a minority stake in being held by CPI. Qinshan phase 3 is owned by Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co Ltd - also part of CNNC but with China Electric Power Group Corporation, Zhejiang Provincial Electric Power Corporation, Zhejiang Provincial Electric Power Development Corporation, Shenergy (Group) Co Ltd and Jiangsu International Trust & Investment Corporation as other shareholders.

Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation was established in 1997 to construct and operate Tianwan NPP, with four units planned (phases 1 & 2) and space for four more. CNNC owns 50% share, CPI 30% and Jiangsu Guoxin Group 20%.

Early in 2005, Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Company Ltd. was established in Liaoning Province by CPI, and will be responsible for the Hongyanhe nuclear power project 100 km north of Dalian City. As of early 2007, 45% was held by CPI, 45% by CGNPC and 10% by Dalian Municipal Construction Investment Corp. CGNPC will be responsible for construction and the first five years operation of the plant.

The Shandong Hongshiding Nuclear Power Company Ltd is developer of a new plant at Hongshiding, in Rushan city and has 51% holding by CNEC/CNNC, with Huadian Power International Co and two investment companies.

The Shandong Nuclear Power Company Ltd is a subsidiary of CPI and was established at Yantai in July 2004 to undertake the development, construction, operation and management of the Haiyang nuclear power project. CPI owns 61 or 65%, CNNC 5%, and four local entities the balance.

Ningde Nuclear Power Co Ltd was set up in 2006 by CGNPC (51%), Datang International Power Generation Co and Fujian Coal Group as a joint venture to build the first phase of the 6-unit Ningde nuclear plant at Qinyu, Ningde city in Fujian province.

The Fujian Fuqing Nuclear Co Ltd was set up in May 2006 by CNNC (51%) as a joint venture company with China Huadian Corp (49%) to build the Hui'an/ Fuqing plant at Hui'an or Fuqing in Fujian province. The first two units of six 1000 MWe reactors are estimated to cost US$ 2.8 billion.

Bailong: China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company (CGNPC, 40%), CPI (40%) and Guangxi Investment Group Co Ltd (20%) signed a framework agreement in July 2006 to invest US$ 3.1 billion in the first two units of the 6000 MWe Bailong plant in Guangxi autonomous region of southern China. CGNPC is in charge.

CNNC owns 51% of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Company, which was set up in April 2005 to build and own the Sanmen project. Other shareholders are the provincial government's Zhejiang Energy Company (Group) Ltd., China Electricity Investment Nuclear Power Company, China Huadian Company Ltd. and CNEC.

Yangjiang Nuclear Power Co Ltd was set up in 2005 under CGNPC and is in charge of construction and operation of Yangjiang nuclear power station.

Taishan Nuclear Power Company is being set up in 2007 as a CGNPC subsidiary with 30% held by Electricite de France (EdF) to build, own and operate the Taishan nuclear plant.

Bamaoshan, on the Yangtze River near Wuhu, Anhui province: In May 2007 CGNPC signed a joint venture agreement with partners Shenergy Co. of Shanghai (20%), Shanghai Electric Power Co (14%) and Anhui Province Energy Group Co (15%) to build the $2.9 billion first phase (2 x 1000 MWe) of the Wuhu plant, to comence operation in 2015. All four CPR-1000 units are expected to cost $5.84 billion.

Taohuajiang Nuclear Power Company Ltd was set up by CNNC in June 2006 to build the Taohuajiang nuclear power plant near Yueyang in inland Hunan province. This is understood to be a CPI project however.

The Shidaowan prototype reactor is being built by Huaneng Shidaowan Nuclear Power Company. China Huaneng Group is the lead organization in the consortium with 47.5% share. China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Group will have a 32.5% stake and Tsinghua University INET 20%.

The 4000 MWe Shidaowan / Rongcheng plant is apparently a joint venture of the Huaneng Nuclear Power Development Company and CGNPC but further partners may become involved as State Council approval is sought.

In February 2007 CNNC together with China Three Gorges Project Corporation, China Resources Co Ltd and Hunan Xiangtou Holdings Group Co Ltd set up the joint venture Hunan Taohua River Nuclear Power Co Ltd to build and operate a 4 x 1000 MWe nuclear power plant at Lishanhe in Yiyang City in Hunan province in two stages at a total cost of $5 billion. This is about 100 km SW of Yueyang. The project was approved by the State Development & Reform Commission in November 2005.


China is a nuclear weapons state, party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) under which a safeguards agreement has been in force since 1989, with the Additional Protocol in force since 2002. China undertook nuclear weapons tests 1964-96. Since then it has signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In May 2004 it joined the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.

China has Peaceful Use agreements for nuclear materials with Canada, USA, Germany and France. The Canadian one is very similar to Australian bilateral safeguards agreements.

All imported nuclear power plants - from France, Canada and Russia- are under IAEA safeguards*, as is the Russian Hanzhun centrifuge enrichment plant in Shaanxi.

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