China’s Taishan 1 has become the first European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) in the world to be successfully connected to the power grid.
The EPR was designed by EDF’s subsidiary Framatome. Two of the reactors will be installed at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and EDF plans to deploy two more at its proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk.
Construction on Taishan 1 started in 2009, whilst work on its sister, Taishan 2, kicked off the following year.
Taishan 1 began being fuelled up in early April. The first reaction took place towards the beginning of June and at the end of the month the main-generator and grid-connection tests were completed.
The reactor will now be subjected to a series of incremental power-up tests before eventually being trialled at full power over a longer period.
The connection is an important milestone for the EPR design. The first four reactors will all be delivered behind schedule and over budget. Concerns have been raised that the pattern will be repeated in the UK.
EDF said valuable experience has been gained from the construction of the Flamanvillle 3 reactor in France and the Olkiluoto 3 reactor in Finland. Despite being started earlier, they have both been overtaken by Taishan 1 in the race to completion.
The Taishan project has been developed by TNPJVC, a joint venture between China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), EDF and the provincial Chinese electricity company Yuedian.
CGN is also working with EDF on the Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and Bradwell B nuclear projects and holds stakes in all three.
The company intends to deploy several of its HPR1000 reactors for Bradwell B. The design is currently undergoing a generic design assessment.
According to reports in the South China Morning Post, CGN is additionally considering investing in wind and gas projects in Britain.
“In the UK, we aim to become an important and reliable developer, operator and builder of clean energy projects,” CGN chief executive Zheng Dongshan told the paper.