Commercial operations on the first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor could begin as early as Friday in China, according to reports.
The Sanmen power plant in east China is reportedly ready to take Unit No. 1 online after a multi-day test run, according to China National Nuclear Power Co. Like many nuclear projects around the world, including the U.S., the AP1000 work has undergone many delays on safety issues and financial overruns.
If successfully fired up and connected, it could jump-start China’s role in nuclear energy projects globally. The Sanmen No. 1, however, originally was supposed to be completed by 2014.
In the U.S., projects such as the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina were abandoned by their utility owners, while counterparts paying for the Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia are mulling the same fate as early as this week.
Vogtle, incidentally, is building around two AP1000 reactors. Nuclear contractors such as Westinghouse, whose 2017 bankruptcy accelerated the downturn of the already shaky U.S. sector, are looking globally as the lifelines for new projects.
The AP1000 reportedly offers a more efficient design that takes less land mass. Some critics have expressed concern over some cost-savng measures in the design.
(Rod Walton is content manager for Power Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected]).