China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced on 20 December that the world's first pebble-bed modular high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear power plant had been connected to the grid.
Unit 1 of the pebble-bed modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor demonstration project (HTR-PM) at the Shidaowan plant in Shandong province had completed the zero-power physical tests in November. CNNC said that, together with Tsinghua University and Huaneng Group, it had played an important role in EPC general contracting, fuel element manufacturing, and engineering construction. Once the project is fully operational, the reactors will serve five sub-target markets of "hydrogen, steam, water, heat, and electricity”.
CNNC noted that it “is steadily advancing the next larger-scale high-temperature gas-cooled reactor project”, adding that China Nuclear Energy Technology Co “is the link that gathers all parties in the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) industry chain innovation chain, forming a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor innovation network”.
The key core technology of the high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear power plant belongs to China, CNNC said. The localisation rate of equipment is 93.4%. It has involved about 50,000 drawings, 100,000 pages of documents, and more than 15,000 nuclear island equipment components.
China Huaneng said the generation 4 HTGR “with the characteristics of an advanced nuclear energy system” had achieved a qualitative leap from "laboratory" to "engineering application". Currently the operating indicators of the demonstration project unit are normal, the reactor, steam turbine generator and related system equipment are operating in a stable manner. “The unit 1 reactor is steadily advancing to full power and various tests are being carried out in an orderly manner before the unit 2 reactor is connected to the grid. The two reactors are expected to be fully operational in mid-2022.”
The Shidaowan high-temperature gas-cooled reactor demonstration project began construction in Rongcheng, Shandong at the end of 2012. “This project is the world’s first pebble-bed modular high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear power plant, and it is also the world’s first demonstration project to commercialise high-temperature gas-cooled reactor nuclear power technology,” China Huaneng said.
The demonstration HTR-PM, with two 250MWt reactors will drive a single 210MWe turbine. China Huaneng is the lead organisation in the consortium to build the demonstration unit (with a 47.5% stake), together with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) subsidiary China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC - 32.5%), and Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (20%), which is the research and development leader. Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua and CNEC, is the main contractor for the nuclear island.
China's first pebble-bed modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR-PM) has been connected to the grid (photo: CNNC)