Unit 5 of China's Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant achieved first criticality on 21 October. [Photo/CNNC] Unit 5 of China's Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian province – a Hualong One reactor – achieved criticality on 21 October, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said.

The 1000MWe unit has now officially begun operation and had taken an important step towards completion and commissioning, CNNC added.

CNNC said various commissioning tests will now be carried out before Fuqing 5 is connected to the electricity grid. Once connected, it the reactor will undergo tests at increasing power output levels before entering a full-power assessment period.

Fuqing 5 is the first unit with a domestically-designed Hualong One (HPR1000) reactor to achieve criticality. China's State Council approved construction of Fuqing 5&6 in April 2015. First concrete for Fuqing 5 was poured in May 2015 and Fuqing 6 the following December. The inner dome of Fuqing 5 was installed on the containment building in May 2017, with the outer dome in January 2018. Hot testing was completed on 2 March 2020 with operation expected to begin later this year, followed by operation of Fuqing 6 in 2021.

Currently five other Hualong One units are under construction in China. CNNC is building one (the first of two) at Taipingling in Guangdong and two at Zhangzhou in Fujian province. China General Nuclear (CGN) is building two at its Fangchenggang site in Guangxi province. In addition, two Hualong One units are under construction at Karachi in Pakistan, while CGN proposes to use a UK version of the Hualong One at the planned Bradwell site in the UK.

Photo: China's Fuqing 5 achieved first criticality on 21 October. [Photo/CNNC]