China’s new Linglong One reactor just one piece of nuclear expansion

March 13, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Workers install the core module of Linglong One, the world's first commercial SMR, at a nuclear power plant in Changjiang Li autonomous county, Hainan province, in August 2023. (Photo: Zhang Liyun/

China is on pace to add as many as 10 reactors a year and may surpass the United States’ total nuclear capacity by 2030.

As part of this growth, construction is wrapping up this month on the world’s first onshore commercial modular pressurized water reactor—Linglong One, which is located in the Hainan province. That’s according to China Metallurgical News, an established news unit reporting on China’s industrial chain.

About the plant: Construction of Linglong One was to begin in 2017, but the project hit regulatory snags and did not break ground until 2021. It is the first SMR to get approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The reactor, owned by Hainan Nuclear Power Company, is expected to generate about 1 billion kilowatt-hours each year.

The China National Nuclear Corporation said the plant is a “debut of modular manufacturing and installation of nuclear reactor modules, representing a historic step [in] global nuclear miniaturism and highlighting China’s leading position in the modular manufacturing of small pressurized reactor units.”

Nuclear growth: China plans to add three or four new reactors to its national fleet this year, raising the country’s nuclear capacity to about 60.8 gigawatts, according to Tiezhong Lu, chairman of CNNC.

Lower construction costs are helping China with its nuclear expansion. The Chinese will pursue nuclear development in a “robust, safe, and orderly” manner, the National Development and Reform Commission said in an annual report to the National People’s Congress.

China hopes to increase its nuclear capacity to about 400 gigawatts by 2060, which would provide for 18 percent of the nation’s energy generation.

Quotable: “Our country has the ability and obligation to be the first in the world to recognize that nuclear energy is a green attribute,” Lu told China Business News in an interview. “It is possible to approve 6 to 8 or even 10 units every year, and it is very likely.”

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