The 6GW Yangjiang nuclear power plant is China's biggest nuclear power project. Credit: China General Nuclear Power.
Unit five of the Yangjiang NPP started commercial operations in July 2018. Credit: China General Nuclear Power.
The fifth unit runs FirmSys, an advanced nuclear-grade distributed control system. Credit: China General Nuclear Power.

The 6GW Yangjiang nuclear power plant (NPP) is the biggest nuclear power project in China based on the number of one-time approved units.

Owned by Yangjiang Nuclear Power Company (YJNPC) and situated in the Guangdong Province, Yangjiang is one of the world’s biggest nuclear power plants by capacity, too.

China General Nuclear Power (CGN) holds 29% of YJNPC, while its subsidiaries GNIC and CGN Industry Investment Fund Phase I hold 30% and 7% respectively. Guangdong Yudean Group and CLP Holdings hold the remaining shares with a 17% stake apiece.

CGN subsidiary CGN Power is managing the nuclear power plant. As of November 2018, the five units of Yangjiang NPP transmitted more than 100TWh of electricity to the grid. The sixth unit of the power plant is currently under construction and is expected to reach completion by 2019.

Yangjiang nuclear power plant development details

The State Council of China approved the construction of six 1,086MW units of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in November 2008. It was a key energy project under the 11th five-year plan from 2006 to 2010 and was proposed for the employment of the independent pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology CPR1000.

The Yangjiang nuclear power plant replaced fossil energy with nuclear energy, leading to the reduction of coal consumption by 30.9Mg and carbon dioxide emissions by 80.8Mg. Construction of the first unit began in December 2008, while commercial operations started in March 2014.

The construction of the second 1,000MW unit began in June 2009, with operations starting six years later. Construction of unit three commenced in November 2010, while commissioning was completed in January 2016.

Construction of the fourth unit was initiated in November 2012 and grid connection was reached in January 2017. Construction of the fifth unit began in September 2013 and grid-connection was achieved in May 2018.

CGN began to construct the sixth unit in December 2013, with the reactor dome hoisted in January 2016. The thermal functional test of the unit was completed in February 2019.

Yangjiang NPP reactor details

The first four units of the Yangjiang NPP use the independent pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology CPR1000.

“The State Council of China approved the construction of six 1,086MW units of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in November 2008.”

Unit five of the plant became the first in China to use the third-generation nuclear technology ACPR1000 (Advanced Chinese PWR). The fifth unit is also the first independently owned nuclear power unit in China to meet Gen-III nuclear technology safety standards.

The unit features rod position indicating and a control system that is independently developed by the CGN Research Institute.

The ACPR-1000 reactor is an advanced version of the CPR-1000. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation designed the reactor with complete domestic intellectual property rights and in line with post-Fukushima safety requirements.

The reactor comes with higher seismic standards than the older three-loop CPR-1000 reactor. It features a double containment and a reactor core catcher for severe accident mitigation purposes. It also includes advanced features such as in-vessel retention and spray systems.

The sixth unit will use the same reactor technology as that of the fifth.

Technology used at Yangjiang NPP

The fifth unit of the Yangjiang NPP is the first plant to utilise a domestic, nuclear-grade instrumentation and control system. FirmSys is employed during critical in-safe shutdowns and accident mitigation for reactors.

It is applied in safety-grade I&C systems such as reactor protection systems, engineered safety feature actuation systems and post-accident monitoring systems.

The control system includes an independently designed operating system and communication network for maintaining system security.

Contractors involved

Sany supplied its SCC16000 crawler crane for conducting lifting works at Yangjiang NPP.

Another CGN subsidiary China Techenergy was awarded the contract for supplying DCS platforms for units five and six of Yangjiang NPP.

In June 2013, CGN reached an agreement with Rolls-Royce to upgrade the distributed control system of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant.

Metso, Hollysys Automation Technologies, ABB, DunAnac, Armaturenfabrik Franz Schneider, CCCC Fourth Harbor Engineering Institute, Cementaid International, Atkins, Atlas Copco Rental, Xizi United Holdings, Shenyang Sanke Nuclear Power Equipment Manufacture, Sysview and China National Erchong Group are among the other contractors involved in the project.