Taishan project to fuel Areva's EPR dreams

By Liu Yiyu and Wan Zhihong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-04 15:10
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Beijing - French nuclear group Areva said that work on the nuclear power plant in Taishan, Guangdong province, is progressing on schedule, despite delays in similar projects in Finland and France.

Areva is supplying the third-generation nuclear reactors and said there are no safety concerns for the Taishan project.

The plant along with the two in Finland and France, are the first batch of projects using the European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) technology.

"Our focus and top priority is to make the Taishan project a success, so that we can capitalize on it and sell it to the global markets," said Eric Neisse, vice-president of nuclear operations at Areva China.

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) signed an 8-billion-euro contract with Areva for the supply of the two reactors in November 2007.

The two reactors, with total annual power generation capacity of 26 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), are expected to be completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

"China is the first market for EPR," said Neisse.

The Guangdong project is the largest-ever nuclear contract in Areva's history and a platform to showcase its EPR technology globally.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently asked Areva to provide more information about the safety systems of its EPR reactor after it sought a license for the same.

Regulators in Europe have also raised concerns about Areva's reactor design.

Officials in France, the United Kingdom and Finland told the company last November to fix the flaws in the safety systems for the EPR reactor.

Areva now has four European Pressurized Reactors under construction. The other two EPRs, one each in Finland and France, are facing construction delays after nuclear regulators expressed safety concerns.

The company is also seeking approvals for EPRs in other countries like the United Kingdom, India, Italy, South Africa, Czech Republic and Netherlands.

Neisse said EPR is still a new technology in the nuclear industry and is much safer than other older generation technologies.

"We have drawn on the experience of Finland and France's EPR projects and are confident of completing unit 1 and unit 2 on time," said Liu Jianjun, assistant general manager of Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture.

The Taishan nuclear power plant site is designed to contain six units of nuclear reactors.

However, construction of the remaining units has been delayed due to "inadequate preparations", said Liu.

China Daily