The pioneering technology behind Suffolk’s Sizewell C reactor is put to the test in China

Tainshan nuclear power plant in China. Picture: EDF/ zwx@TNPJVC

Tainshan nuclear power plant in China. Picture: EDF/ zwx@TNPJVC - Credit: Archant

A nuclear reactor which uses the same technology as is planned for Sizewell C has just been successfully launched in China.

Unit one of Taishan Power Plant in China’s Guangdong province is now producing electricity using the world’s first ‘Evolutionary Power Reactor’ (EPR), a technology which will later be deployed at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and then at Sizewell C in Suffolk, if it gets the go-ahead.

Taishan is 70 percent-owned by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), with EDF controlling the rest.

Taishan nuclear power plant is the biggest cooperation project to have taken place between China and France in the energy sector. Taishan’s two 1750-MW EPR reactors are capable of supplying the Chinese power grid with up to 24 TWh of CO2-free electricity a year, tantamount to the annual electricity consumption of 5 million Chinese users, whilst at the same time preventing the emission of 21 million tons of CO2 a year.

Simone Rossi, Chief Executive of EDF Energy, described the launch as “a great step forward” for the EPR. “It shows that the UK can have confidence in the reactor design which we are using at Hinkley Point C and planning to use at Sizewell C,” he said. “It also demonstrates the value of our partnership with CGN.

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“Hinkley is already benefiting from lessons learned at Taishan and other EPR projects. This experience will also help lower costs for Sizewell C, so that nuclear remains competitive and continues to deliver jobs, skills and industrial opportunities for the UK.”

Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said EPR is a “major asset” in addressing the challenge facing many countries - “reconciling the growth of electricity demand with the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

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The new year heralds the start of EDF’s next round of public consultation on Sizewell, which will tour towns including Leiston, Theberton, Yoxford and Darsham from January 4 onwards.

“Significant progress” has been made at Hinkley Point C, with collaboration between experts from CGN and EDF Group and expertise brought from Taishan being “key factors,” according to EDF.

This week, Hinkley Point C marked the successful completion of its final construction milestone of 2018. In a job that took over 30 hours, teams poured concrete on the first part of the first reactor’s 4,500 tonne base, which provides the solid platform for the reactor buildings.

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