In China, the world's first fourth-generation nuclear power plant has been commissioned

On Wednesday, December 6, China commissioned the world's first so-called fourth-generation nuclear power plant, a major step forward for the Asian giant in the race for the reactors of the future

In China, the world's first fourth-generation nuclear power plant has been commissioned

On Wednesday, December 6, China commissioned the world's first so-called fourth-generation nuclear power plant, a major step forward for the Asian giant in the race for the reactors of the future. The Shidao Bay power plant, located in Shandong (east of the country), is powered by two high-temperature reactors cooled by gas, and not by pressurized water.

“Commercial operation of the Shidao Bay power plant has officially begun,” the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. According to the latter, this is a first in the world for this type of reactor.

Traditional reactors produce electricity from nuclear energy. But these advanced models (called small modular reactors, or SMRs) can have other applications, notably heating, seawater desalination, or even steam for industrial needs.

Reduce dependence on foreign technologies

China, which wants to free itself from coal to power its power stations, is at the forefront in terms of new reactors. The country is also seeking to reduce its dependence on foreign technologies, in a context of tensions with Western countries.

More than 90% of the equipment at the Shidao Bay power plant is of Chinese design, said project manager Zhang Yanxu, quoted by Xinhua. Construction of the plant began in 2012. A first SMR was connected to the electricity grid in December 2021. The capacity of Shidao Bay is 200 megawatts, according to local media.

According to their promoters, SMR reactors could play a central role in decarbonization and the energy transition, thanks to a compact and simplified architecture, a module design reducing costs and construction time, and their multiple use. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), more than 80 projects are under development in eighteen countries.