Unit 4 at China’s Fangchenggang NPP in the Guangxi Autonomous Region has achieved first criticality, according to China General Nuclear (CGN). The unit is the second of two demonstration Hualong One (HPR1000) reactors (units 3&4) at the site. The Fangchenggang plant will eventually house six reactors. Phase one (units 1&2) are CPR-1000 units which began commercial operation in 2016. Units 5 and 6 are expected to be Hualong One reactors.

Hot functional testing of Fangchenggang 4 began in September 2023. The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) issued CGN a licence to operate in February 2024 and fuel loading was completed on 2 March. NNSA inspections followed and permission to launch the reactor granted on 1 April. CGN said the 1,180 MWe pressurised water reactor became critical on 3 April.

Unit 3 began commercial operation in March 2023. The first concrete for the nuclear island of unit 3 was poured in 2015 and for unit 4 in 2016. The units were originally expected to be launched in 2019 and 2020 but this was delayed until 2022 for both units. In 2020 commissioning of the units was again postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

CGN said the Fangchenggang demonstration project is of “great significance” for the serial production of Hualong One reactors. Fangchenggang 3&4 are 39% owned by Guangxi Investment Group and 61% by CGN.

The Fangchenggang plant is planned to house six reactors. The first phase comprises two CPR-1000 units which were put into commercial operation in 2016. Units 5 and 6 are expected to feature Hualong One reactors.

Image: Fangchenggang units 3 and 4 (courtesy of CGN)