CGN to build floating reactor

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China General Nuclear (CGN) expects to complete construction of a demonstration small modular offshore multi-purpose reactor by 2020, the company announced on January 12, 2016.

CGN said development of its ACPR50S reactor design had recently been approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan for innovative energy technologies.

The company said it is currently carrying out preliminary design work for a demonstration ACPR50S project. Construction of the first floating reactor is expected to start next year, it said, with electricity generation to begin in 2020.

The 200 MWt (60 MWe) reactor has been developed for the supply of electricity, heat and desalination and could be used on islands or in coastal areas, or for offshore oil and gas exploration, according to CGN.

The Chinese company said it is also working on the ACPR100 small reactor for use on land. This reactor will have an output of some 450 MWt (140 MWe) and would be suitable for providing power to large-scale industrial parks or to remote mountainous areas.

CGN said the development of small-scale offshore and onshore nuclear power reactors will complement its large-scale plants and provide more diverse energy options.

Last October, Lloyd’s Register of the UK announced it had signed a framework agreement with the Nuclear Power Institute of China – a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) – to support the design and development of a floating nuclear power plant utilizing a small modular reactor. That plant would be based on a marine version of CNNC’s ACP100 SMR design, known as the ACP100S. This 100 MWe design with passive safety features has been under development since 2010 and its preliminary design was completed in 2014.

The only floating nuclear power plant today is the Akademik Lomonosov, under construction in Russia, where two 35 MWe reactors similar to those used to propel ships are being mounted on a barge to be moored at a harbour. The Baltiysky Zavod in St Petersburg is on schedule to deliver the first floating nuclear power plant to its customer, Russian nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom, in September 2016. It could start operating in Chukotka as early as in 2017.

Floating plants offer various advantages: construction in a factory or shipyard should bring efficiencies; siting is simplified; environmental impact is extremely low; and decommissioning can take place at a specialised facility. However, the offshore environment brings important considerations, such as access for personnel and equipment and the need to ensure radioactive materials never enter the sea.

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