China's interest in South Africa's proposed new nuclear power plant (NPP) programme was made manifest on Tuesday when three Chinese nuclear companies held a joint public briefing on their capabilities and technologies at the Energex Africa 2013 exhibition in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. China today has 17 operational NPPs, with another 28 under construction.
The State-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) highlighted its experience in the nuclear energy sector and its history in developing NPPs. It currently operates nine reactors and is building another 12 reactors at five new NPPs.
It has developed a number of pressurized water reactor (PWR) designs and its latest is the ACP1000, of which the first two units should start construction before the end of this year. "The ACP1000 meets the requirements of Generation III NPPs, including active and passive [safety] design, including feedback from the Fukushima nuclear accident," assured CNNC representative Duan Hui.
She also cited her company's success in exporting an earlier NPP design, the CP300, to Pakistan. Two units were built at the Chasnupp NPP. "Chasnupp-1 came into commercial production in 2000. Its availability is over 90%. Chasnupp-2 gained provisional acceptance in May 2011, three months ahead of schedule. It is now also in good operation. We have also exported research reactors."
The State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) also highlighted its latest design, the CAP1400. This is also a Generation III PWR. It is based on the technology of Westinghouse Electric's AP1000.
The SNPTC is currently building four AP1000 units in China and has been the beneficiary of technology transfer from the US company. Westinghouse has also provided design consultation for the CAP1400.
"It has a passive safety system. There is no need for operator action for 72 hours after an accident. The upgraded safety features are based on the lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident," affirmed SNPTC senior adviser Sun Guangdi. "The CAP1400 is listed by the Chinese government as a National Science and Technology Major Project -- one of 16 [such] projects." Currently, it is planned to build two CAP1400 units in China.
The China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corporation (CGN) can offer South Africa its ACPR1000 PWR design. This, too, is a Generation III design and is derived from French technology. Construction of the first unit (reactor) in China is expected to start next year. At the moment, CGN has eight units in operation, 15 more are under construction at five sites, while two more sites are in preparation for the construction of a further four units.
"CGN is currently number one in the world for nuclear new builds," highlighted company VP: nuclear development department Yang Mao Chun. "From this year, every six months, one unit, or more than one unit, will be put into commercial operation. We have a very good industrial safety record. Our accident rate is very low. We think that nuclear safety is the lifeline of nuclear power. We've come here [to Energex Africa] and we wish to deliver clean energy and share our localisation experience with our South African friends."