Japan connects world?s first ABWR

The world?s first advanced-design nuclear power plant was connected to the Japanese electricity grid in late January, 52 months after the start of construction and 10 weeks ahead of schedule. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6, 140 miles north of Tokyo, is a 1,356-MW advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) designed and built by General Electric and its associates Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. under the sponsorship of Tokyo Electric Power Co. It is expected to enter commercial operation later this year, according to Nuclear Energy Insight O96.

State-of-the-art modular and all-weather construction techniques helped shorten the construction time, but participants credit the Japanese regulatory process with much of the time savings. Safety, design and other issues are all finalized before the plant enters construction so there are no construction stops for hearings or reviews.

The ABWR includes a decade of technological advances in nuclear engineering and digital electronics, with multiplexed, digital electronic control systems and fiber-optic technology. It has new features to improve safety, reduce occupational exposures to radiation, lower operating and maintenance costs, and cut outage times.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 7, another 1,356-MW unit, is under construction, expected to enter commercial operation in mid-1997. Unit 7 will make Kashiwazaki-Kariwa the world?s largest nuclear power station, with a total output of 8,200 MW. Japan?s Electric Power Development Co. has announced plans to build an ABWR on the northern tip of the main island of Honshu.