China's nuclear power is entering the golden age

If Shidao Bay's commercial demonstration project is successful, China will become the first country in the world to have a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor commercial nuclear power plant. This first-mover advantage will redefine China's position in the world's nuclear power industry, and it may turn China from a technology-importing country into a major exporter of nuclear power technology. China's nuclear power is entering the golden age.

Since 2005, the state has renewed nuclear power construction, and the “proper development of nuclear power” proposed by the “Tenth Five-Year Plan” has been amended to “actively develop nuclear power” in the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan”, and “The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” has been published in October this year. In the "Suggestions" of the Second Five-Year Plan, it is proposed that "efficiently develop nuclear power on the basis of ensuring safety."

According to the "new energy industry development plan" to be approved, by 2020, the planned installed nuclear power capacity is 86 million kilowatts. Although China’s current nuclear power generation share accounts for only 2%, the scale of 25 units and 27.73 million kilowatts under construction accounts for 40% of the nuclear power units under construction worldwide.

At present, the AP1000, the third-generation nuclear power technology introduced from the United States, is popular in China. If the large-scale commercial application is successful, it will replace the second-generation plus technology that has matured and become the leading technology of China's nuclear power in the future.

Beyond the national nuclear power construction boom, the Institute of Nuclear Energy and New Energy Technology of Tsinghua University (referred to as “Tsinghua Nuclear Research Institute”) is quietly advancing the commercial demonstration project of China’s fourth-generation high-temperature gas-cooled reactor for nuclear power technology.

Compared with the second- and third-generation technologies, the outside world knows little about the fourth-generation nuclear power technology, and even less understands that China's high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology has already taken the lead in the world.

"If Shidao Bay's commercial demonstration project is successful, China will be the first country in the world to have a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor commercial power station, which will redefine China's position in the world's nuclear power industry. This kind of technology and business The first-mover advantage will make it possible for China to become a major exporter of technology from a nuclear power technology importer.” Zhang Zuoyi, president of the Tsinghua Nuclear Research Institute, told Oriental Weekly.

At present, the project only waits for a construction permit. After 30 years of trekking, the China High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor Project, which was born with the 863 Plan, has reached a key node.

Intergenerational debate

Why do we have four generations to engage in three generations and three generations to continue to engage in the second generation?

Zhang Zuoyi believes that the development of nuclear power generation by generations is not very scientific. In the field of nuclear power, intergenerational relations are not universally interchangeable. “For example, the second generation plus technology is currently dominant, but the third generation will be built. At the same time, the development of three generations is not to say that the second generation plus technology will be eliminated because it still meets current technology and safety standards.”

Lu Feng, a professor at the Beijing University’s School of Government Administration, also told reporters: “The mainstream nuclear power technology in the world does not develop along a straight line. This division of the first, second, third and fourth generations creates an illusion.”

In 1999, the U.S. government proposed the concept of a "fourth generation nuclear energy system." The most fundamental requirement for a nuclear power plant is to achieve "inherent safety." In July 2001, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the establishment of the U.S.-led “International Forum for Nuclear Energy Systems of the Fourth Generation”, which introduced the concept of six types of fourth-generation reactors, including high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors.

High-temperature gas-cooled reactors use helium as a coolant, and nuclear reactors with high outlet temperatures can produce hydrogen in addition to power generation.

In September 009, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a statement saying: “The Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project will adopt a new type of high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology. One facility supports a variety of industrial applications, such as the simultaneous generation of petroleum for power generation. The NGNP project will extend the use of nuclear energy to a wider range of industries and transportation, reduce fuel consumption and pollution, and increase the inherent safety of existing commercial LWR technologies."

“The PWR units we see so far are giants. In fact, the size of the reactor is only about one thousandth. Because the reactor is too small, the unit heat generated is very large and the core melts easily, so it needs a lot of water. Cooling ensures safety, but if the reactor is made large enough to dissipate heat, the core can be prevented from melting without water cooling. This is the principle of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor.” Zhang Zuoyi explained.

In November 2009, Oak Ridge National Laboratory conducted an investigation report on the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor designed by Tsinghua University and believed that the biggest benefit of this reactor is safety. It is physically possible to completely exclude San Francisco and Chel. Nuclear accidents like Nobel, at the same time, because of the high temperature, the power generation efficiency is also much higher than the light water reactor, almost comparable to the thermal power.

China Leading

As early as the 40s of the last century, the United States had already put forward the concept of such a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. After World War II, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States undertook analysis and experimental work. In the early 1960s, the United States stopped the study and transferred the project to Germany. From 1967 to 1990, Germany had built an experimental reactor and a demonstration power station that used high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology. In the 1990s, due to the prevalence of the idea of ​​green pacifism in Germany, the government finally decided to phase out nuclear energy, and the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor project also stopped.

From the mid-1970s onwards, Tsinghua Nuclear Research Institute assumed the task of developing high-temperature gas-cooled reactors in China. Wang Dazhong, former president of Tsinghua University and dean of the Tsinghua Nuclear Research Institute, actively promoted this project. Wang Dazhong, Zhang Zuoyi and a group of top talents in China's nuclear energy research field have studied in Germany and are very familiar with German high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology.

Under the support of the “863” program, in 1986, Tsinghua University officially began research and development of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors. In 1995, the 10MW high-temperature gas-cooled experimental reactor HTR-10 of Tsinghua University was started construction. In January 2003, full-power grid-connected power generation was realized.

In January 2006, the “Large Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor and High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor Nuclear Power Plant Demonstration Project” was listed as one of the 16 national major science and technology projects. The project was built in Shidao Bay, Shandong Province, and the target was to be put into operation in 2013. The power station consists of two reactor modules with a power of 100,000 kilowatts and is connected to a steam turbine generator set. According to Forsberg and Moses, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States, "Modularity" is an innovation of Tsinghua University. This will not only ensure safety advantages, but also provide economies of mass production of nuclear systems.

“Compared with current pressurized water reactors, our high-temperature gas-cooled reactors have less cooling, so the system is greatly simplified. This is a great advantage for Chinese industries that are not good at manufacturing sophisticated systems. Such technologies and equipment All of them can be localized and do not need to be imported. On the other hand, the materials of the reactor are mainly steel and graphite, and the cost is low. At the same time, the heating power and efficiency are high. Furthermore, the equipment of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor is compatible with the thermal power station equipment. Sex, and China has a strong manufacturing capacity of thermal power plants." Zhang Zuoyi said.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States pointed out: "If China successfully builds a modular reactor that improves both safety and economy, China will become the world leader in the sale of commercial nuclear reactors to other countries. If this strategy is successful, It will lead at least 10 years or more."

Why China as a latecomer has become a leader today? According to Zhang Zuoyi, this is a "toy-rabbit race."

"Because of the interruption of the research of Virtue, we have spent time on the cheap. As a major national science and technology project, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors are a priority development project in China. Policy support has kept our research alive. It's like a rabbit sleeps. Then, the turtle caught up.” Zhang Zuoyi said.

However, the research and development cycle of nuclear power technology is very long, and rabbits always have time to wake up. In September 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy listed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors as the type of technology for the next generation of nuclear power plants in the United States and began to invest huge human and material resources. According to Zhang Zuoyi’s introduction, the United States now spends 180 million U.S. dollars each year on research and development and organizes a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor laboratory for thousands of people.

In contrast, China's research team has only 1,000 people, although this is already a huge number and is still far behind the United States. “The United States has a deep technical foundation, and our technological foundation is lean and research funding is less than they are. The total cost we spend over the years is equivalent to their annual funding. It can be said that we are dry belts and belts. Live." Zhang Zuoyi said.

What most threatened Zhang Zuoyi was that the NGNP project in the United States had entered the tendering phase, and General Atomics and Westinghouse Electric were competing.

“Once the NGNP of the United States is a commercial power station, it will not pass through experimental reactors and then to commercial reactors. The question now is: Whoever builds a commercial power station first can be preemptive,” Zhang Zuoyi told Oriental Weekly.

Standing at the threshold

In the commercialization of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, Zhang Zuoyi may be more anxious than its partners Nuclear Construction Group Corporation (hereinafter referred to as "China National Nuclear Construction") and Huaneng Group.

Shidaowan's high-temperature gas-cooled reactor commercial demonstration project has spawned two companies: First, China Nuclear Energy Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "China Nuclear Energy"). CNE Energy is a supplier and general contractor of nuclear islands in nuclear power plants. It was controlled by Tsinghua University in the initial stage of 2003 and China Nuclear Power Construction Co., Ltd., and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. held shares in 2006.

China National Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. was named “Westinghouse of the Future” by Zhang Zuoyi. Westinghouse Electric Corporation is a world-renowned electrician equipment manufacturing company. In 1957, it built the first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States and was also the main partner of China National Nuclear Power Technology Corporation. "The most important equipment and investment in the power station are here. The company's old is always dug up from Wall Street in the United States, and we intend to enter the international market in the future and create a world-class industry model."

The second is the owner company established for the Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Station, namely Huaneng Shandong Shidaowan Nuclear Power Co., Ltd., which was jointly constructed and operated by Huaneng Group, China Nuclear Power Construction and Tsinghua University with investment ratios of 47.5%, 32.5%, and 20% respectively. .

The Shidao Bay project was originally expected to issue a construction permit between 2008 and 2009. During the "two sessions" in 2010, the general manager of China Nuclear Power Corp., Mu Zhanying also said with excitement that the Shidao Bay project will be officially started construction at the end of March and early April. However, according to the reporter’s understanding, the Shidaowan project has not yet received a construction permit.

“The state’s approval of nuclear power projects is very prudent, especially as the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor as a new technology needs to fully verify its safety.” A nuclear power industry expert told reporters.

On the other hand, it is due to the consideration of the overall layout of nuclear power. At present, the three major nuclear power companies China National Nuclear Corporation, China National Nuclear Power Corporation, the National Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and the five major power generation groups including Huaneng Group and China Power Investment Group competed for the trillion yuan of nuclear power cakes. Previously, due to the dispute between the "second-generation plus" and "three-generation" nuclear power technology routes, the intensified nuclear power "Great Leap Forward" was temporarily suspended by the National Energy Administration, delaying or even stopping the approval of nuclear power projects.

The speed is not up to speed. Huaneng Group's high-profile promotion of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors has attracted a lot of attention. Its hope for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors is very large. It not only turns a laboratory project into a model commercial project, but also begins the commercialization of this technology. Promotion.

In the long-term planning of the Shidao Bay high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, a 4 million kilowatt high temperature gas-cooled reactor nuclear power unit will be built. In addition, Huaneng Group has established a Nuclear Power Engineering Establishment Office in Anqing, Anhui Province, to prepare for the commercialization of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor nuclear power plant. Huaneng Group even envisages the construction of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor in Hainan. However, because this technology is still in the laboratory stage, it will not be possible to put into production until 2015, and Hainan can't wait until it is ready. It has chosen the second-generation technology independently developed by CNNC.

A person from the work department of Huaneng Shandong Shidaowan Nuclear Power Co., Ltd., general manager, told the reporter: “Originally, the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor project was planned to start in August last year, but it has not been started until now. The development and reform commission’s project has obtained the preliminary feasibility study. The report and the safety report have been completed. The assessments of the Nuclear Safety Administration and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have also been passed. We are now waiting to start work."

Zhang Zuoyi told reporters that the preparatory work for the demonstration project has been almost completed. 30% of the project has been completed. However, the real start of the nuclear power plant is to “concrete the first concrete tank” and cannot be completed without obtaining a construction permit. Do this work.

"The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor is 200,000 kilowatts, but now a pressurized water reactor is one million kilowatts. I am afraid that China will not have the commercialization space for the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor in the next ten years." An industry expert who did not wish to be identified said The reporter said.

Zhang Zuoyi is very optimistic about the commercial prospects of HTR. “Once our demonstration power plant operates successfully, we will soon find a market, and now there are many foreign energy companies to negotiate technology introduction.”

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