Tianwan 4 achieves criticality

8 October 2018

Unit 4 at China’s Tianwan nuclear plant in Jiangsu province achieved first  criticality on 30 September. The Russian-supplied VVER-1000 is due to begin generating electricity by the end of the year and to begin commercial operation in March 2019. 

Tianwan 4 was built with technical assistance from Atomstroyexport (ASE), the Engineering Division of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The physical startup of the unit began on 25 August when the first of 163 fuel assemblies was installed in the reactor. "The fuel loading was completed ahead of schedule,” said Alexei Bannik, Vice President for Projects in China at ASE . 

The Tianwan NPP is the largest Russian-Chinese economic cooperation project.  Construction at Tianwan is carried out by the China’s Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation (JNPC) in conjunction with ASE. The plant is owned and operated by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation, a joint venture between state-owned CNNC (50%), China Power Investment Corporation (30%) and Jiangsu Guoxin Group (20%).

Tianwan Phase I (units 1 and 2) was constructed under a 1992 Russian-Chinese cooperation agreement and first concrete was poured in October 1999. Both units were commissioned in  2007. Units 3 and 4 (Phase II) are similar, comprising two AES-91 VVER-1000 units. First concrete for Tianwan 3 was poured in 2012, and construction of  unit 4 began in 2013. Unit 3 began commercial operation in February having achieved first criticality in September 2017 and grid connection in December. 

Construction of units 5 and 6 (Phase III) was originally scheduled to start in early 2011 but was delayed following the Fukushima accident in Japan. China's State Council approved units 5&6 with Chinese design 1080MWe ACPR1000 reactors in December 2015. First safety-related concrete was poured for Tianwan 5 in December 2015 and for Tianwan 6 in September 2016, with commercial operation scheduled for the end of 2021.

In June, Russia and China signed four agreements, including for the construction of two VVER-1200 reactors as units 7 and 8 at Tianwan plant. Two further VVER-1200 units are to be constructed at the new Xudabao site in Liaoning province. Rosatom director general Alexei Likhachev has said the four units will be brought into commercial operation between 2027 and 2029.  Russia will simultaneously construct Tianwan 7 and 8  and Xudabao 3 and 4, he added.  

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