China became the fourth country in the world to master its own third-generation nuclear technology
More recently, the PRC entered the top five largest producers of electricity at nuclear power plants, but already claims to be the world leader in this area. The intentions are supported not only by the country’s significant experience of cooperation with the IAEA and the leading atomic powers – the United States, France, Russia, but also by the development of its own nuclear technology. The first Chinese-made nuclear reactor is named Hualong One. The word “hualong” is composed of two characters, the first of which means “Chinese” and the second means “dragon”. The dragon in Chinese mythology is a symbol of the East, nature and good energy.
The development of nuclear energy in China should solve the problem of the country’s traditional dependence on burning coal that pollutes the atmosphere. Prominent Chinese economist Lin Yifu says: “If China does not change its development model or reduce resource consumption, this will have negative consequences for other countries for generations to come.”…
China is the fifth largest producer of oil and other liquid energy sources in the world. However, most of the production is carried out in old fields; they require expensive, sophisticated production methods to maintain production. One way to increase production is to exploit the rich potential of shale gas and shale oil from seven promising basins (Sichuan, Tarim, Junggar, Songliao, Yangtze Platform, Jiangang and Subei), but numerous technical problems are slowing their commercial development. As a result, China has become the largest importer of oil and gas.
Ditching coal in favor of hydropower is also not an option. Such a replacement could improve air quality in cities on the east coast, but for people living in the ecologically fragile southwest, where more than 80 percent of new dams will be built, it will not be a boon. The construction of dams will result in flooding of fertile land and increase the risk of flooding. Chinese environmentalists have called for an immediate halt to major hydropower projects, as many river ecosystems have already been destroyed in the country.
Now China is turning to renewable energy sources, significant investments are going into the construction of solar and wind power generators, but this is not an ideal solution. Such generators are of low power, depend on the weather, and occupy land so valuable for China. And when deployed in the western desert regions and transmitting solar and wind energy over a distance, significant losses occur. Green energy plays an auxiliary role in the PRC and is used for the purpose of supplying energy to urban and rural utilities rather than industry. The development of nuclear energy has become economically justified.
China already occupies one of the first places in the world in terms of the number of nuclear power units, but the share of nuclear power in the country’s energy balance (5%) is low. For comparison: in France, nuclear power plants account for more than 70% of generated electricity, in Russia – about 20%.
In 2015, the PRC began the construction of power unit No. 5 of the Fuqing NPP, based on its own technologies. Chinese reactors Hualong one were designed jointly by two atomic giants – the company China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) commissioned by the National Energy Administration (NEA)… cNNC and CGN solved the problem of combining two reactor projects: ACP1000 and ACPR1000, based on the French M310 reactor.
Connecting the world’s first Chinese reactor to the grid Hualong one took place on November 27, 2020. “This achievement means that China has broken its foreign monopoly on nuclear technology and has officially become one of the leading countries in this area.”, – noted in cNNC… China has become the fourth country in the world to have mastered its own third-generation nuclear technology after the United States, France and Russia. The task was solved within the framework of the policy of self-reliance, although in the near future the government does not intend to abandon foreign participation in the construction of nuclear power plants. It is assumed that the role of Russia may increase.
The creation of the “Chinese Dragon” is the result of 30 years of work. At the end of last year, this technology received permission to enter the European market. Installed capacity of each power unit Hualong one is about 1200 MWe, it is capable of generating about 10 billion kWh of electricity annually. Use of one power unit Hualong one will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8.16 million tons and will lead to a reduction in the consumption of carbon equivalent by 3.12 million tons annually.
China is no longer dependent on anyone for many aspects of the fuel cycle. The state seeks to produce one third of the necessary uranium domestically, obtain one third from foreign capital in mines and joint ventures abroad, and purchase a third on the open market. China’s two large enrichment plants were built under agreements with Russia, but now much of the capacity is locally produced. Along with a long-standing close relationship with France, China has a 1985 bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States, renewed in 2015.
“China is capable of mass production of its own third generation Hualong One reactor, which can be seen as China’s newest business map,” – said the chairman cNNC Wang Shoudun. Originally Hualong one was conceived as a reactor for export, now it is presented as one of the 16 key national scientific and technical projects of the PRC.
China’s investment in research and development in nuclear technology is significant. The long-term plan for the extraction and purchase of uranium until 2030 meets the objectives of supplying fuel to 130 reactors. It is assumed that the number of nuclear power units in the PRC will increase 2.5 times in the current decade. It is impossible to achieve such a stunning figure without our own developments, and the first of them was Hualong one – “Chinese dragon”.
Cover photo: September 4, 2020. Fuel loading at nuclear power unit No. 5 of Fuqing NPP (Fujian province in the southeast of China)
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