China looks to floating NPPs

27 October 2015

The UK-based Lloyd's Register Energy and the Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC), a subsidiary to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), have signed a "major cooperation framework agreement for a first-of-a-kind floating nuclear vessel" that will be used in Chinese waters to supply electrical power to offshore installations. Lloyd's Register Energy said in a statement that it would assist in the design and development of a "safe and secure floating vessel" containing a small modular reactor (SMR).

The first contract under the framework agreement is to develop new nuclear safety regulations, safety guidelines and nuclear code and standards for the floating NPP (FNPP) that are consistent with offshore and international marine regulations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safety standards. Lloyd's Register Energy helps clients design, construct and operate capital intensive assets to their highest levels of safety and performance, said nuclear director Mark Bassett. He said NPIC has asked Lloyds Register Energy to help them safely achieve this "technically challenging" offshore nuclear programme.

Melvin Zhang, Lloyd's Register Energy's vice-president of strategic development for Greater China, said the agreement marks the beginning of a ground-breaking initiative for the Chinese nuclear industry, taking nuclear power generation offshore. He said the project will show how nuclear power can be used and applied to support sustainable power generation in both energy and marine sectors. NPIC said it believes there is "substantial opportunity" to further efforts in developing power generation for the future. This is just one example of how NPIC is seeking to innovate and apply new ways of using nuclear technology for robust power supply.
NPIC designed and built China's first pressurised water reactor, its first high flux reactor, its first pulse reactor, as well as the Min Jiang Test Reactor. NPIC is involved in reactor design and safety research, and produces medical isotopes.

The FNPP will be based on a 100MWe marine version of CNNC's ACP100 SMR design, an integrated pressurized water reactor with passive safety features, which has been under development since 2010. The preliminary design was completed in 2014. The ACP100 is a multi-purpose reactor designed for electricity production, heating, steam production or seawater desalination.

China announced in June plans to put a FNPP into commercial operation by 2019. NPIC chief designer Song Danrong said station will have a 100MWe reactor unit of the domestic ACP100S design. The basic design will be completed in 2016, the project design will be ready in 2017 and the vessel carrying the station prepared, with the aim of completing the main component installation in 2018 and commercial operation in 2019, Song said. The station will be used to supply power to remote offshore areas or for deep-sea oil exploration projects. The demonstration project is expected to cost about CNY3.5bn (about $560m).

CNNC New Energy Corporation, a joint venture of CNNC (51%) and China Guodian Corp, is planning to build two ACP100 units in Putian county, Zhangzhou city, at the south of Fujian province, near Xiamen, as a demonstration plant.

In April, CNNC signed an agreement with the IAEA for a Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) of the ACP100 which will review the completely- or partially-developed safety cases of new reactor designs that are not yet at the licensing stage. The review was scheduled to begin in July and expected to take seven months to complete.

Russia is expected to provide some technical assistance. In June 2014, Rusatom Overseas, a subsidiary of Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom, signed a memorandum of intent with CNNC New Energy Corporation to design and build FNPPs and to promote small reactor technologies. Currently, the only FNPP nearing commissioning is the Akademik Lomonosov, under construction at the Baltiysky Zavod in St Petersburg.

The vessel has two 35MWe reactors, based on those used to propel icebreakers, which are mounted on a barge to be moored at a harbour. Akademik Lomonosov is on schedule for delivery to Russian nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom in September 2016 for operation off the coast Chukotka in the northeast Arctic in 2017 or 2018. In late June, Rusatom Overseas (a branch of Rosatom) and China's CNNC New Energy signed a memorandum for building floating nuclear power plants. In July 2014, a Chinese visited Russia's FNPP Training Centre and the Baltiysky Zavod and met with members of the FNPP construction project team.



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