Search

 

Cablegate: China Building Indigenous Nuclear Plant Construction

P 070951Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9050
INFO DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
NOAA NMFS WASHDC
NSF WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY SEOUL
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
NRC WASHDC
AIT TAIPEI 7042

UNCLAS BEIJING 003055


STATE FOR OES/SAT, EAP/CM, ISN/MDSP AND T, AND FOR ISN/NESS R.
DELABARRE, P. COMELLA
USDOE FOR INTERNATIONAL/FREDRIKSEN, YOSHIDA, BISCONTI, AND BALLOU
USDOE FOR NNSA/SCHEINMAN, BIENIAWSKI, HUIZENGA, AND KROL
USDOE FOR NE/SPURGEON AND MCGINNIS
USNRC FOR ROSALES-COOPER
USDOC FOR 4420/ITA/MAC KASOFF
TOKYO FOR DOE ATTACHE CHERRY

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG KNNP TPHY PREL CH
SUBJECT: CHINA BUILDING INDIGENOUS NUCLEAR PLANT CONSTRUCTION
CAPACITY, EDGING OUT WESTINGHOUSE

REF: A. 2008 Beijing 1137, B. 2008 Beijing 1136, C. 2008 Beijing
2863


1. (SBU) Summary: At a meeting convened by the DOE China Office,
Westinghouse China provided an update on China's nuclear reactor
program, including progress at the Westinghouse AP1000 sites, plans
for new reactors, and an assessment of China's overall current and
future capacity to build new nuclear power plants (NPP).
Westinghouse representative Gavin Liu noted that because China's
technical capacity is increasing, the longer it takes to start the
next round of AP1000 reactors, the less scope will be available for
Westinghouse. Following construction of the first two AP1000s,
China should be able to indigenously produce most components for the
next two plants except for the primary coolant pumps and
instrumentation and control system. Three Chinese manufacturers
have already acquired or are in the process of acquiring
capabilities to produce heavy nuclear forgings including reactor
pressure vessels, two of which will rival the capabilities of Japan
Steel Works. Liu believes that China's forging and component
manufacturing capacity will need to be dedicated to internal
projects for the next two decades, after which China can turn to the
export market. Although the CPR-1000, the Chinese-built reactor
based on a copy of Framatome reactor technology at Daya Bay and Ling
Ao, which has been broadly adopted throughout China and is becoming
Westinghouse's main competitor, can be built quickly and
efficiently, it uses decades-old technology and, according to
Westinghouse, is 100 times less safe than the revolutionary passive
design of the AP1000. End Summary.

New QA/QC Standards for Importers
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Westinghouse is currently building four reactors at two
sites in China, Sanmen and Haiyang, for a consortium led by the
State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC). Other Chinese
partners are the China National Nuclear Corporation and China Power
Investment Corporation (CPIC). For the first two reactors, the
control rod drive mechanism (CRDM), reactor coolant pumps, and
instrumentation and control circuitry (I&C) will be provided by
Westinghouse. Doosan of South Korea will provide the reactor
pressure vessels (RPV) and steam generators (SG). Primary coolant
piping will either be supplied by an Italian firm or one of three
potential Chinese suppliers who are currently submitting samples for
testing. Liu noted that since the contract was signed last July,
China's nuclear regulator, the National Nuclear Safety
Administration (NSNA), has implemented new standards for foreign
firms to be licensed to import nuclear components into China.
Foreign vendors must submit an application that includes proving
they have successfully built the components in another country, but
do not have to provide samples. (Comment: This new requirement is a
response to problems with Russian-supplied equipment at Tianwan NPP,
specifically with components that had never been manufactured
before. End Comment.)

Equipment Localization Plans
----------------------------

3. (SBU) A local Chinese manufacturer has been selected to build
the steel containment vessels, but has not yet been able to obtain
required construction certifications from NNSA. Liu believes the
delay is a combination of the manufacturer having difficulty
supplying sufficient samples of the steel and welds, and limited
resources of the regulator. This is currently the only construction
delay. Ansaldo Nucleare, originally one of Westinghouse's


subcontractors, is now out of the picture, as they intended to
source the containment vessel in China anyway.

4. (SBU) For the second two reactors, the customer is responsible
for procuring most of the equipment (Westinghouse will still supply
the primary coolant pumps and the I&C system). As part of the
technology transfer portion of the contract, Westinghouse will
provide technical drawings and specifications so that SNPTC can
place orders locally for the equipment.

Potential Bottlenecks
----------------------

5. (SBU) Liu noted that China does not currently have the technical
capability to manufacture cam pumps large enough to meet AP1000
specifications. China has the technology to build smaller cam
pumps, used in nuclear submarines, Liu said, and is working on
manufacturing larger pumps to eventually use in AP1000s, but will
not be ready in time for the first four plants. The other main
technology deficiency in China's nuclear industry is I&C. China
currently has no one capable of integrating I&C technology to build
a platform for NPP applications, Liu said.

6. (SBU) Liu believes the biggest potential bottleneck is human
resources - coming up with enough trained personnel to build and
operate all of these new plants, as well as regulate the industry.
Although the civil construction and engineering industry in China
has significantly improved, there is almost no cross-pollination
with the nuclear construction industry, he said. (Comment: Although
there currently is a limited field of experienced nuclear personnel
in China, this will probably not be a showstopper, as China has
demonstrated in the past a near infinite capacity to draw in and
train new people as necessary, basically straight from high school.
This was how China built up a civil aviation industry from scratch.
End Comment.)

Heavy Forging Capacity to Rival Japan Steel Works
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (SBU) China has three manufacturers that are working to expand
capabilities to produce heavy nuclear forgings - Shanghai Boiler
Works (SBW) (ref A), Harbin Boiler Co., Ltd, and Dongfang Boiler
Group. Dongfang is currently working exclusively for Guangdong
Nuclear Power Corporation (GNPC) to produce forgings for CPR-1000
reactors under construction all over China. Harbin and SBW have
installed presses which will give them the capacity to make the
largest forgings, rivaling even the capabilities of Japan Steel
Works. SBW, which has received nuclear certifications from NNSA and
has produced forgings for Daya Bay, Ling Ao, Ling Dong, and Qinshan,
has installed the largest press in the world at 16,500 tons. Harbin
installed a 16,000 ton press produced by China First Heavy Machine
Works in Qiqihar and is currently working to receive nuclear
certification from NNSA. (Note: Harbin has reportedly been
practicing producing nuclear grade forgings, but none have made the
grade yet. End Note) SBW can provide four complete reactor forging
sets per year (reactor pressure vessel, steam generator, and
turbine), Dongfang can supply two to three, and Harbin expects to be
able to supply two per year. Liu noted that no one transferred this
technology to China; they figured it out on their own. The nuclear
forging capacity will have to be dedicated to local projects for the
next ten to twenty years, Liu believes, after which China can look
to the export market.

Evolution of the CPR-1000
-------------------------


8. (SBU) GNPC's CPR-1000, which has been selected for seven sites
for a total of 22 reactors so far, is basically a carbon copy of the
Framatome reactors imported at Daya Bay, with upgrades to the I&C
system and some other minor improvements, Liu said. The Framatome
reactors are actually copies of 1960s-era Westinghouse reactor
technology transferred to the French. While there was no specific
technology transfer clause in the Daya Bay or subsequent Ling Ao
contracts, GNPC learned how to replicate the plants through a series
of separate projects with the French, including software sales and
training, Liu said. China practiced by building Qinshan II, a 600
MW plant, a 2-loop downscale of the 3-loop Daya Bay plant.

9. (U) CPR-1000 sites planned or under construction:
-- Ling Dong, Guangdong Province - 2 NPP
-- Qinshan II, Zhejiang Province - Units 3 and 4 (600MW)
-- Hongyanhe, Liaoning Province - 4 NPP
-- Ningde, Fujian Province - 4 NPP
-- Yangjiang, Guangdong Province - 4 NPP
-- Fuqing, Fujian Province - 4 NPP
-- Fangjiashan, Zhejiang Province - 2 NPP

China currently has 11 reactors operating with a total capacity of
almost 9 GW electric, all located along the eastern coastline. The
four AP1000s, two EPRs, and 2 planned VVERs (no contract yet) will
add another 9.2 GW of capacity. With the 21.2 GW of capacity from
CP-1000 reactors above, the total announced capacity operating or
under construction is over 39 GW, close to China's original plan to
have 40 GW operating by 2020. The 12 planned inland reactors will
edge the total nearer to the 60 GW championed by National Energy
Bureau Minister Zhang Guobao.

CPR-1000 Has Become the AP1000 Competitor
-----------------------------------------

10. (SBU) Although the Westinghouse AP1000 was selected following
an international bidding process and is frequently compared to
Areva's EPR, Liu says that Westinghouse sees the CPR-1000 as its
main competitor in China. The CPR-1000, which achieved market
dominance before the completely indigenous CNNC-designed CNP-1000
even emerged from the R&D phase, effectively killing it off, can be
built quickly and efficiently using localized components. The
Chinese regulator, burned by problems at Tianwan (ref B), has
advocated slow adoption of new (i.e. AP1000) technology. Even
though the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
announced that GenIII technology (code for the AP1000) should be
used when three inland sites of four reactors each were approved
following the winter snow storms that paralyzed much of southern and
central China in early 2008, Liu is concerned that most, if not all,
of those plants could end up choosing CPR-1000 technology since
there is no transparency in the decision-making process. Because of
the uncertainty, the three utilities are planning for either
technology.

11. (SBU) In addition to concerns about the selection process,
Westinghouse is worried that the longer it takes for a technology to
be chosen, the less scope there will be for international partners
because China is rapidly acquiring indigenous capability.
Furthermore, continuing delays coupled with the long lead time for
many AP1000 components could result in local government officials
pushing hard for CPR-1000 reactors, since faster implementation
would allow them to take credit sooner for decreasing pollution, now
a key component of their performance evaluations.

Who's in Charge of Nuclear Energy?


----------------------------------

12. (SBU) Although the responsibilities of the new National Energy
Bureau (NEB) have been detailed, it is not yet a functioning entity,
Liu said. There is no clear decision-making process established
yet, and none of the Vice Premiers have been assigned the energy
portfolio to date. The official process is that NEB and NDRC
together make recommendations which are sent to the National Energy
Commission of the State Council for final decision; how this will
work out in reality remains unclear, especially in light of the
apparent leadership vacuum. Furthermore, although former China
Atomic Energy Authority Chairman Sun Qin and about ten of his
employees have moved to NEB (ref C), Liu is not aware of any actual
nuclear power experts in that group. (Note: CAEA's nuclear power
expert was Dong Baotong; we have not yet determined where he ended
up in the reorganization. Westinghouse was also unaware of his
current department affiliation. End Note.)

13. (SBU) Comment: It has been six months since the NDRC approved
the 12 inland NPPs and announced they should use GenIII technology,
and five months since NEB Minister Zhang Guobao announced China
should increase nuclear power to 5% of the national mix (or 60 GW
operating, 30 GW under construction), and there still is no decision
on when to start on the inland NPPs and which technology to utilize.
The major government restructuring and devastating May 12 Sichuan
earthquake are likely largely to blame for the delay, but the impact
is every day decreasing the likelihood of quicker AP1000
implementation and reducing the potential scope for Westinghouse
involvement. Furthermore, as the CPR-1000 increases market share,
China is assuring that rather than building a fleet of
state-of-the-art reactors, they will be burdened with technology
that by the end of its lifetime will be 100 years old. Finally, by
bypassing the passive safety technology of the AP1000, which,
according to Westinghouse, is 100 times safer than the CPR-1000,
China is vastly increasing the aggregate risk of its nuclear power
fleet. End Comment.

RANDT


NNNN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC