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The World’s First Small Nuclear Reactor Is Now Under Construction

Courtesy of Charles Kennedy, OilPrice.com

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) launched on Tuesday the construction of the first onshore small nuclear reactor in the world, in its efforts to gain a leading position in the modular reactors market.

Construction began on the demonstration project at the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant in the Hainan province in southern China, local publication Global Times reports.

The start of the construction for the ‘Linglong One’ small nuclear reactor comes four years later than initially planned, due to delays in regulatory clearances, Reuters notes.

The small reactor was originally planned to see the start of the construction phase in 2017.

A year earlier, the Linglong One small reactor had become the first to pass a safety review from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Once completed and commissioned, the small nuclear reactor is expected to meet the annual power needs of around 526,000 households, Global Times reports, without giving a timeline for the completion.

CNNC has been developing small reactor technology for the past ten years, the outlet says.

According to the World Nuclear Association, interest is growing in small and simpler technology to generate nuclear power, due to lower costs and the desire to provide power away from large grid systems. 

“Overall SMR research and development in China is very active, with vigorous competition among companies encouraging innovation,” the association says, noting that the U.S., the UK, and Canada also develop and support their respective domestic small reactor technology.

In the United States, Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a key part of the Department of Energy’s goal to develop safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options, DOE says. The Department has provided support to the development of light water-cooled SMRs, which are under licensing review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and will likely be deployed in the late 2020s to early 2030s.


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