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China Huaneng Group successfully obtains fourth nuclear power license

08 April 2021

Image: China Huaneng
Image: China Huaneng

The "License for Construction of Nuclear Facilities" is one of the nuclear facility safety licenses that the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) of China is responsible for formulating and approving. The operating organisation of nuclear facilities must submit relevant materials to the NNSA before the construction of nuclear facilities, and the construction can only begin after obtaining the "Nuclear Facilities Construction Permit".

In the first phase of the Hainan Changjiang Nuclear Power Project, China National Nuclear Corporation accounted for 51% and Huaneng accounted for 49%. It was not until the second phase of the project that Huaneng was able to formally hold a controlling stake and became a true nuclear power owner. The second phase of the Hainan Changjiang Nuclear Power Project is also the first large-scale pressurised water reactor project to be constructed by Huaneng Group.

At present, China is third in the world in terms of the number of nuclear power generating units in operation while it is first for capacity currently under construction. However, due to the impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the active preliminary work of inland nuclear power projects that originally appeared in the "13th Five-Year Plan" failed to appear in the "14th Five-Year Plan".

The positioning of the "14th Five-Year Plan" for nuclear power is to "safely and securely promote the construction of coastal nuclear power." At present, China's nuclear power technology development has fully entered the stage of independent intellectual property rights. The Hualong-1, Guohe-1 and high-temperature gas-cooled reactors mentioned in the "14th Five-Year Plan" are all nuclear power models with independent intellectual property rights in China.

"Guohe No. 1" was born out of AP1000 technology imported from Westinghouse of the United States, and was once established as a unified technical route for the development of China's third-generation nuclear power.

"Hualong One" is a third-generation nuclear power technology jointly developed by China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation. Its appearance challenges the unified status of AP1000. Previously, the industry thought that "Hualong One" was for overseas markets, and AP1000 was mainly for the domestic market.

However, with the large number of domestic projects of "Hualong No. 1", AP1000 and "Guohe No. 1" have been relatively lagging in market competition. Some nuclear power experts believe that the approval of the Hualong No. 1 project instead of the AP1000 project may be due to the general background of Sino-US disputes.

Although China's nuclear power construction has slowed down due to the impact of the Fukushima accident in Japan, under the goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, industry insiders believe that there is still greater room for development of nuclear power in China in the future.

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