China’s first AP1000 nuclear reactor at unit 1 of the Sanmen NPP in Zhejiang province will go into operation in mid 2017, more than three years behind the original schedule, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, told Reuters. "We are forecasting that if everything goes smoothly, the first unit will go into operation in June 2017, and the second unit at the end of 2017," he said on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament. "Construction has been delayed three years. At first we planned on December 2013 but there was just no way, with key pieces of equipment not available," he noted.

Last September, State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) president Zhongtang Wang said that civil work had been completed at Sanmen 1. Installation of equipment is almost complete. Equipment tests are ongoing, and leakage tests are expected to be performed this month, with cold testing expected to start by the end 2015 for commercial operation in September 2016.

The "third-generation" Westinghouse-designed reactor has faced series of delays as a result of design flaws and problems with key components. Sun said new coolant pumps for the two reactor units only arrived at the end of last year.

Sanmen 1 is one of four AP1000s under construction in China. Work officially began on the unit when the first concrete was poured in March 2009, with a second unit at Sanmen beginning construction in December the same year. Work began on two other AP1000 units at Haiyang in Shandong province in September 2009 and June 2010, respectively.

Areva’s third-generation design, the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), has faced similar problems, with projects in France, Finland and China all delayed. But Sun said he was hopeful that China’s own third-generation model, Hualong One, will progress more smoothly. China’s first Hualong unit is under construction at Fuqing in southeast China’s Fujian province and is expected to be completed by around June 2020, he said. China has also started construction of a Hualong One unit in Pakistan and is waiting on Argentina to ratify another Hualong deal.