КThe largest contract
During the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, general director of Rosatom Alexei Likhachev and head of the State Energy Administration of China Nur Becri signed a package of agreements on June 8 which the Russian company called "the largest in the history of cooperation" between the two countries in the nuclear sphere.
According to the statement of Rosatom, the parties signed contracts for the construction of two new units (the seventh and eighth) at the Tianwan NPP site with VVER-1200 generation 3+ reactors and two similar units (third and fourth) at a new site in China - "Xuidapu" in Liaoning Province. The Russian state corporation will design a nuclear island of stations (a complex of reactor facilities), and will supply key equipment for the new units of the Tianwan NPP and the Xuidapu nuclear power plant.
During the meeting, the partners also agreed to cooperate in the construction of a Chinese demonstration sodium fast reactor (CFR600). The agreements also provide for the supply to China of a party of Russian radionuclide thermal blocks for the needs of the Chinese lunar program.
The sums of the new contracts are not disclosed by Rosatom. Four power units at two nuclear power plants will be fully funded by the Chinese side, TASS reported citing Likhachev. He did not disclose the full cost of these projects, but noted that under the signed contracts, only at the first stage equipment for $ 5 billion will be delivered.
The market value of four new power units, which the Russian company agreed to build, is $ 26 billion, and supplies of the main equipment occupy up to 75% of the unit cost, Natalia Porokhova, head of the research and forecasting group of the rating agency ACRA, said. The cost of contracts for the construction of nuclear power plants is often influenced by geopolitical factors, and this is typical not only for Rosatom, but for other companies, she explained.
Nuclear fuel instead of coal
Six blocks are planned to be built on Xuidapu, the first two blocks will be with American design reactors - AP1000 - by technology that went to China from the American-Japanese Westinghouse Electric Company. The third and fourth blocks of this plant, which will be built by Rosatom, are supposedly to be launched in 2028, the Russian company said. The contractor of the China Nuclear Power Engineering Company (CNPEC) estimated the cost of all six blocks at $ 16 billion.
To the Xuidapu nuclear power plant, in 2014, Westinghouse Electric Company, which has been operating in China since 2006, and recently with a five-year delay from the schedule, loaded fuel to the first block built in China at the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant. In November 2017, the company also entered into contracts for six AP1000 reactors at the Sanmen, Haiyan and Lufeng sites.
Rosatom transferred the third unit of the Tianwan NPP to the customer, the Chinese JNPC, in March of this year and plans to launch the fourth in September. The Russian state corporation was responsible for the design of the nuclear power plant, the supply of equipment and materials, construction and installation works and commissioning of the plant. The cost of this contract, according to RIA Novosti, was estimated at € 1.3 billion. The first two reactors with VVER-1000 type reactors at Tianwan NPP were built in 2007. The launch of the seventh and eighth blocks, the construction of which the Russian company agreed on Friday, is scheduled for 2026 and 2027 respectively.
In China, there are now 40 reactors (including one experimental capacity of 20 MW) and 17 are under construction. While the coal industry is about 70% of the country's energy sector, local authorities, struggling with air pollution, have set a goal to replace it with more environmentally friendly energy, including nuclear power. China should increase electricity generation at nuclear power plants to 56 GW by 2020 (from 35.8 GW at the end of 2017) and to 200 GW by 2030. But the Chinese government has not issued permits for the construction of new powerful reactors since 2015, Reuters reports. However, this year the authorities announced their intention to build six to eight new nuclear power plant units.
China is developing a project for a new experimental reactor CFR600. Rosatom will provide elements for it, as well as fuel, the Russian company said in a statement. The fast sodium reactor will work first on uranium fuel, then on mixed oxide uranium-plutonium MOX fuel. The first fuel loading in this reactor is expected in 2023.
In China, one experimental CEFR sodium reactor with a capacity of 20 MW is already in operation. But, according to the newspaper "Atomic Strategy", in 2016 this reactor worked only 23 days (in 2015 - 62 days) at a heat capacity of 60% of the design, the rest of the time was spent on repair and maintenance of its equipment in working order.