Unit 1 of China’s Sanmen nuclear plant in Zhejiang Province was connected to the grid on 30 June, making it the first Westinghouse AP1000 to achieve network connection and power generation.
Sanmen 1, a 1117MWe Generation III+ nuclear plant, is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year. "The technical indicators met the design requirements, and the reactor status was well controlled, indicating the unit's construction formally entered the grid-connected commissioning phase for subsequent operation at various power levels," the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) said. "The milestone has laid a solid foundation for transient testing and scheduled commercial operation."
Hot testing of Sanmen 1 was completed in June 2017, and fuel loading began in April after NNSA issued the relevant permit. The unit achieved first criticality on 21 June.
Westinghouse has six AP1000 nuclear power plants under construction – four in China (two units each at Sanmen and Haiyang in Shandong Province) and two in the USA at the Vogtle NPP in Georgia. Westinghouse, China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC) and Shangdong Nuclear Power Co said that Haiyang 1 began to load 157 fuel assemblies on 22 June after completing the necessary testing and NNSA reviews. Haiyang 1 is also expected to start operation before the end of 2018.
Construction of Sanmen 1 began in April 2009, while first concrete for Sanmen 2 was poured in December 2009. Construction of Haiyang 1 and 2 began in September 2009 and June 2010.However, there have been significant delays. Sanmen 1 was initially planned to start up in 2013. Canada’s Brookfield Business Partners purchased Westinghouse after it filed for bankruptcy in 2017 due to delays and cost overruns at four AP1000 units then under construction in the USA. Two of these, at the VC Summer site, have since been cancelled.
China had previously also signed a contract with Westinghouse to build two AP1000 units at Xudabao – the first of six AP1000s then planned for the site. However, these plans appear to have been dropped. On 8 June China signed an agreement with Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom for the construction of two Generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactors at Xudabao.