Rosatom has set a new construction speed record. China’s Tianwan Unit 3 built with Russia’s input was brought online in less than five years after the construction started.
Tianwan 3 went critical in late September as a controlled chain reaction was initiated in the reactor. Going critical was the final step of the reactor start-up phase that began in mid-August with the loading of nuclear fuel into the reactor core. With a total of 163 fuel assemblies loaded, this process was completed ahead of schedule.
Valery Limarenko, President of Russia’s ASE Group, said, “Phase II of the Tianwan construction project has passed a key milestone today as its Unit 3 achieved criticality, which will be followed by the grid connection.”
“It is telling that the first two units built by us in cooperation with China are recognized among the best in the country,” Mr. Limarenko added. “Tianwan is a project that uses our most innovative solutions and latest technology in nuclear energy and construction management. We hope that Tianwan II will serve the people of China and strengthen ties between our countries.”
The construction speed record established at Tianwan Unit 3 is yet another proof that the construction of Russian-designed nuclear plants has got into its stride, experts say. To compare, the construction of VVER-1000-based Rostov Unit 3 began on 15 September 2009, with the reactor going critical a little more than five years after, on 7 December 2014. Russia’s recent nuclear construction projects include VVER-1200-based Novovoronezh II Unit 1 (started in May 2016) and Beloyarsk Unit 3 based on a BN-800 fast-breeder reactor (started in June 2014), both of which were built from scratch for almost eight years.
The next step is the connection of Tianwan 3 to the Chinese power grid. The Tianwan nuclear power plant is the largest project delivered jointly by Russia and China. Tianwan I (Units 1 and 2) were commissioned in 2006 and 2007 respectively and have an annual capacity of over 15 billion kilowatt hours. Commercial operations at Tianwan Unit 3 are planned to begin in 2018. “The cooperation between China and Russia is evolving consistently and has good results. It should be noted that, as a global leader in nuclear construction, Rosatom discharges its obligations on time,” noted Leonid Gusev, an expert from the MGIMO Analytical Center. “The Chinese partners highly appreciate the experience gained in this cooperation. They have already tested the reliability of Russia’s nuclear technologies. With this in mind, China’s readiness to continue the cooperation seems quite explicable.”