China ditches US nuclear technology in favour of home-grown alternative

China ditches US nuclear technology in favour of home-grown alternative

  • The US-developed AP1000 technology was once the basis of China’s third-generation nuclear power
  • But China’s Hualong One is now the preferred option

China has switched from American nuclear power technology to a domestically developed alternative as worries over energy security and geopolitical uncertainties increase.

The AP1000 technology, designed by America’s Westinghouse Electric Company, was once the basis of China’s third-generation nuclear power, but now the country has more third-generation reactors based on its own Hualong One technology under construction or approved, than it does AP1000 reactors.

A total of 12 nuclear reactors in China – either under construction or going through the approval process – use Hualong One technology. In contrast, no new AP1000 reactors have been approved for more than a decade. The last US reactors – in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces – went into commercial operation in 2018.

Hualong One is based on the China National Nuclear Corporation’s ACP 1000 and the China General Nuclear Power Group’s ACPR 1000 – both of which are based on French technology.

The technology passed China’s national review in 2014 – three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster – and was adopted by a number of power plants, with CNNC announcing that the fifth and sixth units at Fuqing, in Fujian province, would use the Hualong One pressurised water reactor design, marking its first deployment.

Construction started in 2015, and after receiving an operating licence from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, nuclear fuel loading at the fifth unit at Fuqing started earlier this month. It is expected to go into operation by the end of the year.