New Type of Nuclear Reactor Put into Use in Beijing
China's first high
temperature gas-cooled reactor has begun generating power
in a full swing in Beijing recently, a leading researcher
said Saturday in Beijing.
The development of the reactor represents a major step in
China's safe use of nuclear energy to resolve its energy
shortage, said Wu Zongxin, a professor with the Nuclear
Energy Technology Institute of Tsinghua University.
China is the fifth country in the world to master the
technology for building this type of reactor, following
the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan.
Construction of the reactor began in 1995, at a total
cost of 250 million yuan (30 million US dollars). The
reactor has undergone 100 safety tests since it began
thermal state testing in December 2000.
It has a shorter production circle and lower production
cost compared with other types of reactors, Wu said.
Moreover, there is no need for regular reactor shut-down,
since the reactor can be re-fueled at any time. This, of
course, enhances its utilization rate.
The reactor produces temperatures three times that of
pressurized water reactors and is operationally very
secure, Wu said.
Several key components of the reactor were designed and
produced by China under the country's high technology
research development plan, commonly-known as the "863
Program". The successful development of the reactor
paves the way for the building of similar or larger
nuclear power stations in China.
The high temperature gas-cooled reactor is generally
believed to be the safest reactor in use in the world. In
the event of an accident, the reactor shuts down
automatically and cools the surplus heat inside the
reactor. A nuclear accident such as Chernobyl is
absolutely impossible, Wu said.
China has been shifting the focus of nuclear power usage
from defense to civilian use since the 1980s. The country
has already built three nuclear power stations, two of
which started commercial operations in the 1990s. Four
nuclear generating units are currently under construction.
The country's installed nuclear power capacity will reach
8.7 million kilowatts in three years.
But all these nuclear facilities are equipped with
pressurized water reactors, and the key spare parts were
made in cooperation with overseas producers. As a result,
both the production costs and the price of electricity
produced are higher than those of thermal and hydro-electric
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency
believe the high temperature gas-cooled reactor presents
a challenge to coal-fuelled power plants.
In view of the anticipated rapid growth in car purchases
in the next few years, China is facing an increasingly
serious oil shortage.
China became a petroleum importer a decade ago. Experts
predict that the domestic demand for petroleum products
will grow by three to four percent this year.
China is actively promoting clean energy production. By
2004, the ratio of nuclear energy as a percentage of
China's total energy production will have risen from the
current one percent to four percent. The figure is still
much lower than the world average of 16 percent.
Zdroj: People`s Daily