Chinese reactor set to provide template for Sizewell C starts producing electricity
PUBLISHED: 16:55 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:09 04 November 2019
The first nuclear reactor built to the design planned for the proposed Sizewell C power plant in Suffolk has started producing electricity for the first time.
The Taishan 1 reactor in China became the first EPR reactor to successfully connect to the grid on Friday, June 29. It is producing electricity, but not on a commercial scale yet, as it goes through a series of tests. It will go fully live later this year.
Taishan 1 will provide a template for building Taishan 2 next door to it, which is still being built, and the same double reactor design is set to be adopted in Suffolk.
Taishan 2 is expected to go live in about a year, and the same process is planned for Sizewell, with about a year's gap between the completion of the two reactors as build teams move from one job to the next.
The £10bn Hinkley Point C project in Somerset is set to be the first EPR reactor plant built in the UK, but French energy firm EDF believes it can bring the price down by 20% when it comes to the construction of Sizewell C.
The Taishan scheme is the largest co-operative energy project between China and France through a joint venture called TNPJVC which involves French state-run EDF and its Chinese partner, CGN.
CGN owns a 51% stake, EDF 30% and provincial Chinese electricity company Yuedian 19%.
However, EDF and its Chinese partner CGN are planning to take minority stakes in the Suffolk nuclear project, and say a "strong UK shareholder base" will be needed. EDF has started talks with about 12 potential investors from a broad base, including pension funds.
Jim Crawford, Sizewell C project development director, said of the Taishan milestone: "This is welcome news for the Sizewell C project which stands to benefit greatly the East of England region's economic and skills base. Taishan unit 1 is the first of the EPR fleet of reactors to start generating low carbon electricity and Sizewell C will be the seventh and eighth reactors in the series."
The construction of Taishan 1 began in 2009, and Taishan 2 in 2010, but work on two other EPR reactor projects in Europe began before that at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland. However, both of these have suffered long delays.
EDF said the Taishan project had benefited from a longstanding partnership between it and CGN, and their experience in the sector.