Construction starts of the biggest China-Russia nuclear power project

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The ground-breaking ceremony for the largest China-Russia nuclear energy cooperation project to date was held last month. The ceremony, in respect of the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power plants (NPPs) in China, was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin via videoconference, according to news agencies. 

China’s state-run CGTN-TV said the project, signed in June 2018, has a total contract value of over 20 billion yuan ($3 billion), making it the biggest nuclear energy project between the two countries so far. 

The May 19 ceremony marked the start of construction for power units 7 and 8 of the Tianwan NPP located in the city of Lianyungang in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, and units 3 and 4 of the Xudapu NPP located in Xingcheng in the Liaoning province. According to Xinhua news agency, when completed and put in operation, the annual power generation by these NPP units will reach 37.6 billion kilowatt-hours, which is equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30.68 million tonnes per year. 

All four units will be equipped with the state-of-the-art Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactors developed by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. The proposed units 7 and 8 at Tianwan are more advanced as compared to the four commercially operating VVER-1000 reactors previously supplied by Russia for units 1 to 4 at the Tianwan site. In March 2019, a general contract for Tianwan Phase IV – units 7 and 8 – was signed between Rosatom subsidiary AtomStroyExport and the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). 

This groundbreaking ceremony took the number of China’s nuclear power reactors approved, or under construction, to become the world’s largest, increasing to 23 from 19. There are currently 49 nuclear power reactors in operation in China. 

Speaking on the occasion, President Xi said nuclear energy is the strategic priority for China-Russia bilateral cooperation and a series of major projects have been completed and put into operation, Xinhua reported. Noting that the four nuclear units that have started construction mark another major landmark in bilateral nuclear energy cooperation, Xi said it is necessary to construct and operate the four units with high quality and standards, create a global benchmark in nuclear safety, give full play to complementary advantages, expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation in nuclear energy, and contribute more to the development of the global nuclear energy industry. 

In his address, President Putin said that this year, which marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the two countries, bilateral relations had reached their best level in history. 

According to Russian news agency Tass, Putin said at the ceremony that all agreements between Russia and China reached the top level are being implemented, while many other large initiatives had already been implemented. The Russian President also said he considers cooperation in peaceful nuclear development an important element of the whole complex of the China-Russia strategic partnership. 

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told the media in Beijing that this project “represents the highest level of practical cooperation between the two sides”. The successful beginning of the construction of the four units demonstrates the major cooperation outcomes in high-end equipment manufacturing as well as science and technology innovation and will boost the upgrading of practical cooperation between the two countries, he added. 

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