A panel appointed by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has recommended that China consider building two new CANDU units to develop thorium as an alternative nuclear fuel source.

The panel confirmed that thorium use in AECL’s Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) reactor design is “technically practical and feasible”, and cited the design’s “enhanced safety and good economics” as reasons it could be deployed in China in the near term.

“The panel’s recommendation brings us one step closer to realizing the potential of CANDU nuclear technology for China to reduce dependence on imported nuclear fuel resources,” says AECL President and Chief Executive Officer Hugh MacDiarmid. “China is in a good position to utilize its abundant domestic thorium supply to power its nuclear new-build growth plan.”

The panel’s recommendation supports China’s Third Qinshan Nuclear Power Co. Ltd. (TQNPC) in developing a formal proposal to CNNC and the Chinese Government for a new-build CANDU project as a part of China’s coming five-year plan period 2011 – 2015.

Adds MacDiarmid: “Our history with China’s nuclear program began with twin CANDU 6 units built ahead of schedule and under budget at Qinshan site, located southwest of Shanghai. We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with China once again to position both our countries as world leaders in the development and commercialization of alternative nuclear fuel sources.”

The Qinshan Phase III nuclear power plant includes two 728 MWe CANDU 6 PHWR reactors designed by AECL and built in cooperation with TQNPC. The two CANDU units are ranked among the top performing nuclear power stations in China. Qinshan’s CANDU Unit 2 ranks as the best performing reactor in China with a lifetime energy-availability factor to date of 88.8% according to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) PRIS database.

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