Electricite de France announced on 6 June that the first EPR third-generation nuclear reactor achieved criticality at China’s Taishan NPP in Guangdong province.   Chinese construction industry has brought Taishan 1  online after nine years – five later than originally planned. Xavier Ursat, head of new nuclear power at EDF, tweeted: “The EPR at Taishan in China has just undergone its first chain reaction and has entered service. This is excellent news for the whole nuclear industry.” EDF and reactor designer Framatome (formerly Areva) re-tweeted the comment.

Taishan 1 is expected to enter commercial operation later this year, followed by unit 2 in 2019 The  EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) is an evolutionary development of light water designs such the Framatome N4 and Siemens Power Generation Division KONVOI reactors.  

Taishan 1 and 2,  the first two EPR reactors to be built in China, are part of an €8bn ($9.5bn) contract signed by Areva and China General Nuclear (CGN) in November 2007. The  project is owned by the Guangdong Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company Limited, a joint venture between EDF (30%) and CGN. Construction of Taishan 1&2 began in 2009 and 2010 and CGN began loading fuel assemblies at unit 1 on 10 April a day after receiving a permit from the National Nuclear Safety Administration.  

EPRs under construction in France and Finland are facing even longer delays. The first EPR to begin construction was at unit 3 of Finland's Olkiluoto NPP in August 2005 followed by another at unit 3 of France's Flamanville NPP in December 2007. Olkiluoto 3 almost a decade behind schedule, is only now undergoing fuel loading, while work on Flamanville 3  is on hold while welds are checked. Both projects have seen dramatic cost increases.