China switches on new nuclear reactor, resumes building another

The 1,080 MW reactor unit 1 at China's Ningde nuclear plant in Fujian province sent power to the grid for the first time December 28, 2012.

The event marks the transition of the plant from the construction to the commissioning phase. Plant operator China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. will conduct further tests before the reactors enters full commercial operation, including a 168-hour run at full output.

The reactor is the first of four planned CPR-1000s planned for the site, all of which are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015. Construction on units 1 and 2 started in 2008, and on units 3 and 4 in 2010.

In other, related news, the post-Fukushima freeze on nuclear projects in China is thawing after construction resumed in December on the fourth-generation Shidao Bay nuclear plant.

The 200 MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor is expected to start producing power by 2017, and will ultimately fit into a planned 6,600 MW plant, which will require an investment of more than $16 billion over 20 years, according to reports.

The government began approving nuclear projects in October 2012 after a hiatus following the Fukushima disaster. The Shidao project was slated to begin in 2011, but shelved during the work suspension. The plan for the full 6,600 MW plant has not been approved by regulators.

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