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Safety review delays China’s Areva-designed nuclear reactors

Authorities are looking into weaker-than-expected steel in part of the reactor vessel for an EPR.
Construction of two Areva-designed nuclear units in China is delayed while tests are conducted on the reactor vessel of a similar project in France, regulators in Beijing said on Wednesday.

China will review the construction of the reactors in the southern coastal city of Taishan, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Hong Kong, after French authorities complete their own safety evaluations of an Areva-designed EPR unit in France, Yao Bin, head of the nuclear emergency and security division under the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said at a briefing on Wednesday. An Areva spokeswoman declined to comment.

“The construction of the Taishan nuclear power plant and the construction of the EPR unit is slightly delayed,” said Xu Dazhe, head of the China Atomic Energy Authority, according to a transcript of the same briefing. “We have to figure out all the problems, and then undertake further follow-up works.”

China is poised to be the first nation to operate an EPR, a third-generation reactor that produces more electricity than the average unit. French regulators in April 2015 said that Areva found weaker-than-expected steel in part of the reactor vessel for an EPR being built in France. The plant in China will likely start up before the unit at Flamanville in Normandy and another in Finland, Electricite de France’s chief executive officer Jean-Bernard Levy said in September. 

China plans to spend roughly $1 trillion to expand its nuclear power generation capacity to as much as 250 gigawatts by 2050, which would account for about a quarter of global nuclear power, according to the International Energy Agency. Areva, Westinghouse Electric Co and the country’s state-owned nuclear operators are vying for a piece of the market.

China is studying building inland reactors based on need and safety, Xu said. The country will set up a nuclear emergency rescue team of 300 people which will participate in international missions when needed, according to a report on the country’s nuclear industry released Wednesday.

The country has 30 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 28.3 gigawatts, and 24 reactors under construction that will add an additional 26.7 gigawatts of capacity, Xu said. The country is on track to reach its goal of 58 gigawatts of capacity on line and another 30 gigawatts under construction by 2020, he said.

©2016 Bloomberg News


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There are a couple things worth pointing out. First China is investing far more into each of both wind and solar power than it is in nuclear (nuclear is certainly big, real renewables are bigger see 72% of China’s energy investment between now and 2030 will be in non-nuclear renewables.

Secondly, China has a terrible nuclear regulator. It is so bad they dont even tell you where the problems are at rectors or what they are (see

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