In 1995, the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Company (LANPC) placed an order with Framatome ANP and its partners for the construction of a 2 x 1000 MWe nuclear power plant. Seven years on, the first unit of the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Station (LANPS) entered commercial operation ahead of schedule.

Unit 1 of Ling Ao began commercial operation on May 28, 2002 and was inaugurated on July 2, 2002
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The second unit of Ling Ao is now in the start-up phase and is expected to start commercial operation at the beginning of 2003. The project is part of China’s nuclear power expansion programme, and it is expected that the Ling Ao site will eventually consist of four units.

China is keen to expand its nuclear power generating capacity to help it meet rapidly growing electricity demand. It now has five operating nuclear reactors including Ling Ao 1 and Qinshan 2, which also started operating this year. Current nuclear capacity stands at just over 3500 MW, and this will increase to 20 000 MW by 2010.

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Alongside nuclear power, hydro and natural gas-fired power generation are also being prioritized in order to increase capacity while keeping emissions to a minimum. In spite of this, coal will remain the dominant source of power generation for some years to come, and this will have serious environmental implications for China.

Ling Ao is owned and operated by LANPC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company (CGNPC). Unit 1 began commercial operation on May 28, 2002 and was inaugurated on July 2, 2002. It is located at Ling Ao village on the Dapeng Peninsula to the east of Shenzen. It is just 1.2 km away from the Daya Bay nuclear power station, the plant on which its design is based.

Ling Ao has adopted internationally proven nuclear power technology with Daya Bay as its reference power station. Framatome ANP has a long history in China beginning in 1986 when it signed the contracts to build the Daya Bay project (2 x 900 MWe units). Those units came on line in early 1994. Substantial technical improvements have since been incorporated into the plant to enhance its safety and reliability, and it is now one of the best performing nuclear power plants in operation, according to Framatome ANP.

China is keen to expand its nuclear power generating capacity in order to help it meet rapidly growing electricity demand
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Framatome ANP supplied the nuclear island for Ling Ao as well as the first fuel load. Alstom supplied the conventional island plant, while the BOP (balance of plant) was procured by the owner directly from both domestic and international markets.

All the civil construction works and most of erection works were undertaken by a number of Chinese companies, in particular by Company 23, a subsidiary of China Nuclear Engineering Corporation, while civil engineering work was carried out by Hua Xing.

LANPC is not only the owner and operator of the plant but also the lead contractor. It is therefore fully responsible for the project management.

Main milestones

All erection work on the two Ling Ao units has progressed as scheduled or even in advance thanks to the extensive cooperation between Company 23 and Framatome ANP.

The planned work schedule for the Ling Ao units envisaged a period of six years between the authorization to begin work and the commercial operation date for Unit 1, with the work schedule for Unit 2 eight months behind that for Unit 1. Work on Unit 1 was completed ahead of schedule.

Construction began in May 1997 and nuclear island assembly started in January 1999. Tests on the reactor coolant system were performed on May 15, 2001, and hot testing ended in October 2001. Fuel loading began on December 8, 2001 and first criticality was reached on February 4, 2002. The reactor was connected to the grid at ten per cent nominal power on February 26, 2002.

Commercial operation of Unit 1 was achieved on May 28, 2002, some 48 days ahead of schedule. There were no hitches in start-up tests, mainly due to the reliability of the model based on operating feedback from more than 90 nuclear plants built throughout the world by Framatome ANP, as well as flawless project management from LANPC and all the local and international companies involved.

LANPC is using the Ling Ao project as a basis for developing an ambitious long-term programme to enhance China’s self-reliance in nuclear power generating technology
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Unit 2 is following in the footsteps of Unit 1 and is also well ahead of schedule. The first fuel loading for unit 2 was completed successfully on July 18, 2002.

Technical characteristics

More than 50 improvement modifications were incorporated into the Daya Bay plant design for the Ling Ao project. The most important modifications included:

•Use of the most recent IT equipment for the computer and data processing system and the safety panel, making operation easier and improving safety with regard to managing alarms and normal and incident operating conditions.

•Use of digital technology for the reactor in-core instrumentation system, greatly improving Man-Machine Interface and making time savings when drawing up core flux maps, thus improving availability.

•Introduction of additional automatic protective measures against the risk of sudden boron dilution in the primary system. These measures are a major advance in the area of safety with regard to the prevention of reactivity accidents. They were implemented in existing French nuclear plants by the end of 1998 following the results of risk assessments carried out in France in the 1980s.

•Introduction of protective measures against the risk of core exposure during cold shutdown phases when the level of water in the primary system is very low. These measures are also a major advance in the area of safety based on the most recent risk assessments carried out on existing French nuclear plants.

•Implementation of measures to permit primary system venting during the preparation for cold shutdown phases, thus enabling time savings when opening the primary system, and therefore greatly increasing plant availability by reducing the standard outage time for reloading.

•Implementation of a steam generator feedwater system on start-up which is independent of the steam generator emergency feedwater system. Thus, recourse to emergency feedwater system equipment on start-up, a standard operating procedure, is now avoided. The overall safety level is further improved and operation is made easier.

•Implementation of various operating improvements with regard to waste processing systems, such as the use of additional decay tanks in the gaseous waste processing system and the liquid waste processing system, as well as the addition of a super-compactor to the solid waste processing system, making it possible to reduce the number of metal drums containing solid waste which can be further compacted by a factor of three in comparison to solid waste from the reference plant. These modifications resulted in major advances in the area of waste management.

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In addition to increasing the level of safety, these modifications should make it possible to improve on the performance of the Daya Bay plant, whose availability and average load factors for the two units respectively reached 89.5 per cent and 87 per cent in 2001, with an electrical output of 14 364.8 million kWh.

Technology transfer

Framatome ANP stresses that the success of the project has been largely due to close cooperation with its partners in China. A major part of this cooperation was an extensive localization programme that enabled the Chinese contractors to gain experience of and self-reliance in advanced nuclear power equipment. This programme formed part of the nuclear island supply contract which was signed in October 1995 and which sealed the close partnership between Framatome ANP and LANPC.

At the same time, Framatome ANP, Alstom and Electricité de France (EDF) signed technology transfer agreements with LANPC. Under these agreements, all of the French nuclear technology used – including N4, the most modern Pressurized Water Reactor technology – was made accessible to Chinese industry.

The nuclear island supply contract was extended in September 1997 to include the construction of the primary system managed by Framatome ANP, including a major self-reliance programme to enable Company 23 to become technically independent. It was also extended to include technical assistance provided to Company 23 through the support of specialists from Framatome ANP and SPIE Enertrans to work within the teams of Company 23 in the following main areas:

•Detailed design carried out on site and document management

•Planning and technical coordination of internal and external interfaces up to the transfer of systems to the customer’s start-up teams

•Quality assurance and handling of any non-compliances

•Erection teams training

•Equipment management.

Framatome ANP provided technical support for the nuclear island erection by Company 23. It covered mainly the following fields :

•Technical management: field design, delegations for the engineering works to Company 23, and working procedures

•Project co-ordination: preparing, updating and managing various project schedules, external site co-ordination with civil works, internal co-ordination between Company 23 corporation production teams

•Implementation of the works with specific technology, as well as the equipment and material management, documentation management, quality control and scheduling control.

An associated self-reliance programme was established with the objective of enabling Company 23 Corporation’s personnel to handle independently all site activities without technical support. In the programme, Framatome ANP personnel were integrated into the Company 23 organization. The tasks and results expected were clearly defined and closely monitored through periodic meetings between Framatome ANP personnel and their counterparts in Company 23. In addition, periodic meetings between the representatives of both parties were held to organize and monitor the progress of the programme.

A technical liaison agreement was signed between LANPC, Framatome ANP and Company 23. The objective was to establish a direct communication channel between Company 23 and Framatome ANP for technical information exchange. This was fundamental for speeding-up and settling the technical problems encountered on site and for keeping different activities and schedules consistent.

Long term plans

LANPC therefore used Ling Ao as a basis for developing an ambitious long-term programme to enhance China’s self-reliance in nuclear power technology. The plan adopted by LANPC states that “the foreign suppliers take the whole responsibility for the selection of their Chinese partners, the technical transfer and assistance, and finally for the quality and schedule of localized equipment”. Therefore, LANPC is sure that all localized equipment complies with international requirements and is of the same quality as imported equipment.

Chinese local manufacturers participated in the majority of the systems and equipment involved to varying degrees including reactor internals, Control Rod Drive Mechanisms (CDRMs), steam generators, pressurizers, accumulators, boron injection tanks, fuel handling systems, steam and feedwater piping prefabrication, nuclear secondary vessels, nuclear island auxiliary system heat exchangers, heavy component supports and pressure vessel head lifting devices.

In 1995, Framatome ANP, with the help of its main subcontractors, launched a campaign to select the best Chinese suppliers to manufacture equipment in compliance with European quality standards and with which a long-term partnership could be set up.

The localization programme was implemented in various ways through joint ventures, cooperation agreements, and technical assistance programmes. It focused particularly on the highly technical nuclear equipment to be used mainly for Unit 2 for the following reasons:

•To have sufficient time to set up technical assistance and training programmes

•To enable the Chinese partners to draw up the technical documents, and obtain the investments and qualifications needed

•To have enough time to resolve any problems, without getting behind on the work schedule.

Fuel technology transfer

A technology transfer programme was also set up within the framework of the contract for fuel supplies. As of the next cycle for Units 1 and 2, fuel reloads will be supplied by the Chinese fuel fabrication plant located in Yibin in Sichuan province. Since 1995, this plant has provided the fuel used in units 1 and 2 of the Daya Bay nuclear power plant.

According to the Daya Bay contract signed in 1986, Framatome ANP has had to manufacture and supply the fuel of the first core for the two units as well as the first reload for unit 1. Thus, 374 fuel assemblies of AFA 2G type were delivered to the Daya Bay site between 1993 and 1995.

On May 1991, Framatome ANP and CNEIC signed the first cooperation agreement in nuclear fuel assembly technology transfer, initially covering both design and fabrication of AFA 2G products. Yibin Fuel Plant was designated for fuel assembly fabrication with the Nuclear Power Institute of China for the design. The Zhengzhou No5 Institute was responsible for design of fuel assembly production line and facilities.