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3rd-generation nuclear reactors start test run

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Two third-generation nuclear reactors began generating power last week in China, with experts saying it signals that China's nuclear power industry has overcome a number of technical difficulties.

The Taishan nuclear plant in South China's Guangdong Province using AP1000 technology and the Sanmen nuclear plant in East China's Zhejiang Province installed with evolutionary power reactors (EPR), are now conducting test runs and other experiments to confirm the reactors' safety before going fully online and adding power to the country's grid, the news website thepaper.cn reported on Saturday.

Although the two reactors had been hit by delays, China has learned lessons from the construction process and now has a reference to build additional nuclear power plants, which will accelerate the industry's development in the country, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"As the most advanced reactors in the world, Taishan No.1 and Sanmen No.1 reactors are highly secure with optimized installation. Even hit by natural hazards such as an earthquake, they face a very small chance of being damaged," Lin said.

As of the first quarter in 2018, there were 38 nuclear power units in operation in the Chinese mainland with a combined installed capacity of 36.93 million kilowatts, according to data from the Chinese Nuclear Energy Association, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Nuclear plants can provide air pollution-free energy at a lower cost to consumers, Lin said, noting they meet China's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Although facing strong competition from other clean energy sources such as wind and solar power, nuclear energy could see cost advantages if future plants can be constructed at a lower cost, Lin added.

The security and safety of nuclear power has long been a concern for countries operating such plants especially after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, which forced 300,000 people to evacuate the region.

China ended its moratorium on the approval of nuclear power plants in June 2015, and approved the construction of eight nuclear power plants that year.

In 2016, no new plants were approved. In 2017 only one nuclear plant began construction at East China's Fujian Province, thepaper.cn reported.

Five reactors are expected to be completed this year, including those at Taishan and Sanmen, with a combined installed capacity of six million kilowatts. Six to eight new reactors are expected to be approved this year, according to thepaper.cn.



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