China’s Tianwan nuclear plant unit 1 achieved first criticality on 20 December 2005 following fuel loading of the 163 fuel assemblies in October.

The Russian designed 1060MWe VVER-1000 is one of a pair that are being developed at an estimated cost of $3 billion at Lianyungang, in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

Construction began at unit 1 in October 1999 followed by unit 2 in the following September.

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has begun low-power physical tests and is preparing for commercial operations with grid connection due this month.

Meanwhile, site work has also begun on two indigenous CNP-1000 nuclear reactors at the Ling Dong (also known as Ling Ao Phase 2) site near Shenzhen in Guangdong province. The units are expected to go online in 2010-2011.