China Breaks Ground for 1st Small Modular Reactor

The small modular reactor (SMR) will be built at the Changjiang nuclear power plant in the southern province of Hainan, Linglong One will have a power generation capacity of 125 MWe. The site is already home to two operating CNP600 PWRs, while the construction of the first of two Hualong One units began at this site in March this year. Both those units are due to enter commercial operation by the end of 2026.

According to World Nuclear News, The SMR, which is based on light water design principles, has been under development since 2010. The ACP100 integrated PWR’s preliminary design was completed in 2014.

he major components of its primary coolant circuit are installed within the reactor pressure vessel. In 2016, the design became the first SMR to pass a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Briefing – PDF file)

Power plants comprising two to six ACP100 reactors are envisaged, with 60-year design operating lifetime and 24-month refueling. Thus, electrical power output would range from 250 MWe for 2 units to 750 MWe for six of them.  By comparison, a newly revised six-pack of NuScale’s 77 MWe SMR would deliver 462 MWe,

The project at Changjiang involves a joint venture of three main companies: CNNC subsidiary China National Nuclear Power as owner and operator; the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) as the reactor designer; and China Nuclear Power Engineering Group being responsible for plant construction.  Construction time is expected to be 58 months.

For the demonstration plant, the reactor vessel is being supplied by Shanghai Boiler Works Limited, the steam generators by a CNNC subsidiary and other reactor internals by Dongfang Electric Corporation.

CNNC signed a second ACP100 agreement with Hengfeng county, Shangrao city in Jiangxi province, and a third with Ningdu county, Ganzhou city in Jiangxi province in July 2013 for another ACP100 project. Further inland units are planned in Hunan and possibly Jilin provinces.

The preliminary safety analysis report for a single unit Changjiang demonstration plant was approved in April 2020. Final approval for the construction of the plant was given by China’s National Development and Reform Commission in early June this year.

CNNC said Linglong One would have many uses besides electricity production, including heating, steam production and seawater desalination. The Chinese state owned enterprise has long term plans to build a large number of the SMRs to power many smaller grids.

Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based nuclear energy consultant, told the SCMP newspaper, “The average unit size of electricity generating plants in modern grid systems has been shrinking dramatically with the massive development of renewable energy technologies.  Smaller units have the advantage to adapt much better to smaller grids.”

“The SMRs are losing the economy-of-scale effect,” Schneider said.

“The only way to make up for that economic effect is to sell large numbers of SMRs. There is no company in the world that has a commercial product on the shelf.”


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