Nuclear power is environmentally friendly, and full of commercial value -- but it is also perceived as an unreliable technology, when it comes to weathering natural disasters and serious accidents. Experts say a new type of nuclear power unit, the AP1000, could be the solution to nuclear's problems.
In eastern China’s Zhejiang Province, the world's first AP1000 nuclear power unit has entered its final testing stages. If all goes according to plan, the unit could begin generating electricity as early as next year.
“We have gained a lot of experiences during the test trials, and we hope it will help us optimize the unit's design and construction. The tests have provided us with a lot of experience and feedback, and greatly enhanced our progress,” said Hu Guofeng, deputy manager of China Nuclear Power Engineering Company.
The AP1000 is a third generation nuclear power reactor.
The first unit was introduced by the United States. AP1000 is one of the largest energy cooperation projects between China and the US.
A total of eight AP1000 nuclear power units are currently being constructed in the two countries.
The unit's design enables the power station to automatically implement security measures without external intervention for a long period of time.
“The unit uses gravity and natural convection to achieve optimal security. For example, if there is a sudden drop in power, the unit's built-in cooling mechanism will automatically relieve pressure in the system,” Hu said.
The power plant's unique construction will also help it resist earthquakes, and other natural or man-made disasters.
China has accumulated over three decades of experience in the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.
Nearly 30 nuclear power plants are currently under construction in China, accounting for around 42% of global supply.
More than 85% of China's third generation nuclear technology has been developed here at home. Experts hope Zhejiang's AP1000 nuclear power plant can act as a trailblazer for safer nuclear power in China and around the world.