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World's first EPR nuclear unit begins commercial operation



The world’s first commercial operation of an EPR unit was achieved at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant earlier this month according to a joint-statement released by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and EDF.
Overview of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant.
(Overview of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. Image via EDF).

Comprising two 1750-MW EPR reactors, Taishan nuclear power plant represents the biggest cooperation project to-date between China and France’s energy sectors. Taishan’s two reactors are capable of supplying the Chinese power grid with up to 24 TWh of CO2-free electricity each year, supporting the annual electricity consumption of 5 million Chinese users, whilst at the same time preventing the emission of approximately 21 million tons of CO2 a year.

Unit 1 (Taishan-1) of the plant became the world’s first EPR to enter into commercial operation following the final statutory functional test of continuous operation at full power for 168 hours. The successful outcome of this test on Friday 14th December means that the reactor has achieved all necessary conditions to enter full operation.

The success of this initial EPR unit will come as good news to several other nuclear power plant projects which have committed to use of the reactor technology. EPR technology is expected to be used at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England as well as the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, England. In March 2018, EDF signed a deal with India’s state-owned nuclear operator, Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd., setting out the industrial framework for a massive six-unit, 9.9-GW project utilising EPR technology. That facility will be the world’s largest nuclear power plant when completed.

Commenting on the unit’s entry into operation, He Yu, Chairman of China General Nuclear Power Group, said:

“Taishan-1’s entry into operation marks the accomplishment of the task set by the Chinese and French heads of state. As the world’s first EPR project, Taishan offers valuable lessons and solutions for the construction of similar reactors worldwide and it will play a demonstrative and supportive role in the joint construction of the Hinkley Point C project in the UK by CGN and EDF”.

Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, also commented:

“The commissioning of Taishan-1, the world’s first EPR to enter into commercial operation, is a key achievement for the entire French nuclear industry as it demonstrates its capacity to develop this third-generation nuclear technology in line with the highest safety and quality standards. 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. The Taishan project also illustrates our approach to developing EPRs worldwide, in collaboration with valued partners such as CGN”.

More than 200 French engineers were involved throughout the project’s duration, with more than 15,000 workers mobilised during the busiest periods of the construction phase.

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