China's first nuclear energy heating project that covers multiple prefecture-level cities, has been put into operation in East China's Shandong province. The project, operated by the State Power Investment Corp (SPIC) is the third phase of the 900 MW nuclear power-based "Warm Nuclear No 1" project, which provides green heating to Shandong province's Haiyang and Rushan through a 23-kilometre main transport pipe. The pipe network will connect Yantai with Weihai in Shandong province.

The energy will be provided by the Haiyang NPP in Shandong, which has a heating system connected to units 1&2 of the plant. The system extracts non-radioactive steam from the secondary circuit of Haiyang’s unit 2. This is then fed through a multi-stage heat exchanger at an on-site heat exchange station. The total heating area of the project will reach 12.5m square metres this winter, supplying heat to about 400,000 people. SPIC has been stepping up efforts to expand its nuclear power-based heating projects to more Chinese areas. The first phase of the nuclear heating project in Shandong began operation in 2019 and has provided 700,000 sq m of heating. This was followed by the second phase that covered 5m sq m in 2021. The third phase will cover 30m sq m and is eventually expected to meet heating demand of a million residents.

Total investment for the project is put at CNY700m ($102m). The project also includes a heat source distribution centre that will apply intelligent scheduling management and a control platform for parameter monitoring, SPIC noted. Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University said the project will provide valuable experience to further promote similar heating schemes throughout China.

SPIC ultimately expects to extend the heating area to the entire Jiaodong peninsula. "The heat pipe network marks the official start of China's first long-distance nuclear energy heat supply pipeline network project across prefecture-level cities," SPIC said. Work began on the long-distance supply pipe in February, and the project has required coordination and communication between the different provincial and municipal bodies involved. To date some 83 km of the nuclear energy heating main network and 11 first-level heat exchange stations have been constructed at a cost of some CNY4bn ($555m), SPIC said.

First concrete was poured for the nuclear island of Haiyang 4 in April this year. It marks the official start of construction of the second of two CAP1000 pressurised water reactors – the Chinese version of the AP1000 – planned as Phase II of the plant.

The Haiyang NPP hosts two AP1000 reactors (units 1&2) which entered commercial operation in 2018 and 2019 with two CAP1000 reactors (units 3&4) under construction. Construction of Haiyang 4 began in April and first concrete was poured for the nuclear island of Haiyang 3 in July 2022. This marked the official start of construction of the first of two CAP1000 pressurised water reactors (the Chinese version of the Westinghouse AP1000) planned as Phase II at the site. The Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) noted that the planned construction period for Haiyang 3&4 was 56 months, with both units scheduled to be fully operational in 2027.

Image: The nuclear energy heating project in Yantai, Shandong Province (courtesy of SPIC)