China drives clean energy with small modular reactor demo project

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced that it has started building a multi-purpose small modular reactor demonstration project at Changjiang nuclear plant in South China’s Hainan Province.

CNNC has built up a portfolio of nuclear projects such as the Changjiang initiative to address long-term power shortage issues by providing clean, low emissions power. A 650,000 kW unit can produce 5 billion kWh electricity annually, equivalent to reducing standard coal consumption by 1.5 million tons, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 3.74 million tons and sulfur dioxide by 29,000 tons.

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According to CNNC, this project is the world’s first commercial onshore small modular reactor (SMR) to start construction. It marks a strategic cooperation agreement between CNNC and the Hainan government to reduce China’s fossil energy consumption, and promote energy saving and emission reductions.

The project uses CNNC’s Linglong One technology. Also known as ACP100, it is a multi-purpose pressurized water reactor (PWR) design developed as a result of more than 10 years of independent research and development.

In 2016, the Linglong One design became the first SMR to pass a safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Image credit: CNNC

Each Linglong One unit has a power generating capacity of 125,000kW. After being completed, it will have an annual power generation capacity of 1 billion kWh, meeting the energy demands of 526,000 households.

CNNC suggests in a statement that this SMR demonstration project will enable the implementation and verification of SMR technology, speed up the improvement of China’s independent innovation capabilities in the field of SMRs, and lay the foundations for future large-scale construction.

SMR technology is considered safer, quicker to build, and more flexible in deployment than its larger, nuclear solutions, and can therefore be used as a clean distributed energy source.