According to the latest reports, China’s homegrown nuclear technology took a significant step forward as a Hualong One reactor began loading fuel for the first time.
In a statement on its WeChat account, China National Nuclear Power Co., a unit of China National Nuclear Corp., said fuel loading started at the Fuqing No. 5 reactor, the first to use the domestic technology, on Sept. 4 after securing an operating license from the nation’s Ministry of Ecology & Environment. No timeline was given for starting up the reactor.
One development is being closely watched in the battle for the nation’s next-generation nuclear power systems. Its success could mean a nuclear revival in China that would have little to do with western developers including Westinghouse Electric Co. from the U.S. and France’s Electricite de France SA.
As of 2019, China had almost 49 gigawatts of nuclear power installed. The number is expected to go upto mid-fifties this year. GlobalData Plc predicts it will pass France as the world’s No. 2 nuclear generator in 2022 and claim the top spot from the U.S. four years after that. Two more projects that will use Hualong One designs, with a combined cost of $10 billion, were approved last week.
The country started up the world’s first next-generation reactors in 2018, including four AP1000 units designed by Westinghouse as well as a project using EDF’s EPR technology.
Beijing had given the green light to four Hualong One reactors last year in a clear sign of support. This was viewed as an end to a three-year freeze on new approvals caused by the government’s consideration of different technologies and the ongoing trade dispute with the U.S.