Asian nuclear wrap-up: These are the most recent industry highlights you should know

The industry is very much alive and thriving.

The World Nuclear Association recently published a report that recounted the recent highlights of the nuclear industry in Asia. "World Nuclear Performance Report 2016" said that the Chinese nuclear program continued to deliver predictable series construction of large reactors. In 2015 new units were connected to the grid at Fangjiashan, Fuqing, Hongyanhe, Ningde, Changjiang, Fangchenggang and two at Yangjiang. Construction started on two new units at Fuqing and another two at Hongyanhe.

China resumed new reactor approvals in 2015, having put new projects on hold since the Fukushima accident. Much of the impetus for developing nuclear energy comes from the need to improve air quality in cities as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Chinese government’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan, 2014-2020 it will cut reliance on coal and promote the use of clean energy, confirming the 2012 target of 58 GWe of nuclear online by 2020, with 30 GWe more under construction.

The plan called for the “timely launch” of new nuclear power projects on the east coast and for feasibility studies for the construction of inland plants. The Sanmen 1 unit is expected to begin generating electricity in September 2016 and will be the first AP1000 unit to operate. Meanwhile, good progress at Taishan unit 1 means that that it is expected to start up in early 2017 and will become the first EPR in operation.

In Chinese Taiwan, construction has been suspended on the almost completed Lungmen reactors since 2014 as debate continues on a potential nuclear phase-out.

In Japan, Kyushu Electric Power Company became the first nuclear power plant operator to gain all necessary approvals to restart Japanese reactors since they were shut down following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. Two units of the Sendai nuclear power plant were restarted in the third quarter of 2015. A further unit at Takahama has since been restarted, although a court injunction forced it back into shutdown.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power began commissioning Shin-Kori 3 at the end of 2015, the first APR-1400 to go into service. It had originally been due to begin operating at the end of 2013, with unit 4 following in September 2014. Their operation has been delayed due to component issues, after the discovery that quality certificates had been falsified for cabling and other components in 2012 and 2013.

The reactor is the reference plant for the Barakah project in the United Arab Emirates. By year end, Barakah 1, the first of the four Korean-designed pressurized water reactors was over 80% complete, while unit 2 was almost 60% complete. All four units are scheduled to be completed by 2020.

The Indian government put renewed vigour into the nuclear power element of its massive infrastructure development program with negotiations to unlock long-standing agreements with French, Russian and US companies to build nuclear power plants in the country.

Unit 2 of the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is nearing commissioning and a prototype fast breeder reactor is nearing completion at Kalpakkam, near Chennai.

The conclusion of the negotiations between the Iranian government and China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the USA and the European Union in July 2015 enabled commercial relations in the nuclear energy field. Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low-enriched uranium over the next 15 years.

The Iranian government also agreed to implement provisionally the Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which, together with other measures, increases the agency’s ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran.

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