Dec 4, 2023
Six Nuclear Power Plants That Ensure Continuous Electricity Supply

6 Nuclear Power Plants That Keep the Lights On

Nuclear energy is a reliable, low-carbon power source that does not depend on the weather. When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, nuclear power plants step in to keep the lights on.

The world’s 6 biggest nuclear power plants have a combined capacity of about 5,928MW.

1. Hanul NPP

Located on the eastern coast of Korea, Hanul is operated by state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power. It houses six pressurized water reactors with a total capacity of 5,881 megawatts.

Within a concrete dome the size of a high-rise building, a metallic steel vessel containing uranium is awaiting its turn to be positioned in the center and pushed into a nuclear reactor where it will fission to generate electricity. This is Shin Hanul 1.

The unit was commissioned on Wednesday, becoming South Korea’s newest and most powerful. It comes at a time of energy demand peaking in the winter as temperatures drop.

2. Ningde NPP

China’s Ningde plant features four CPR-1000 pressurised water reactors that have a combined capacity of 4.1GW. The plant’s first unit began commercial operations in April 2013 and the remaining units are currently under construction.

In order to optimize the energy structure and ease the tense situation of electricity in Fujian province, Ningde nuclear power plant was built. The Ningde plant has made great progress in core design and fuel management improvement projects. It has implemented the innovative project of 18-months refueling with gadolinium-bearing fuel in initial core. It also completed the actual core zero power physical tests of critical boron concentration, control rod worth and other parameters.

3. Paluel NPP

Paluel nuclear power plant (French: Centrale nucleaire de Paluel) is spread over a 160 hectare area on the waterfront of the English Channel in Paluel, Normandy, France. It features four 1330 MWe class pressurized water reactor units. It is operated by EDF and employs 1,250 full-time employees.

It generates about 25 TWh per year which is a major source of power in the French power grid. Each of the reactors have a capacity of 900MW. They were built by Framatome.

The OSART mission was conducted to review operational safety at the plant and identify areas that could be improved. The experts interviewed staff and other stakeholders, reviewed documents, and observed the plant operations.

4. Hongyanhe NPP

China’s first nuclear power plant in Northeast China has gone into commercial operation. The six-unit Hongyanhe nuclear power plant in Wafangdian city, Liaoning province, has a total capacity of 6.71 GW.

The unit has completed 168 hours of trial operation and is set for full-scale commercial operation, according to state-owned China General Nuclear (CGN).

It will generate about 48 billion kilowatt-hours annually. The plant is operated by CGN, which has a 45% stake, and the Dalian Municipal Construction Investment Company owns the remaining 10%.

5. Chernobyl NPP

The Chernobyl NPP is a complex of three nuclear power reactors and two spent fuel storage facilities in Ukraine. The plant was shut down in 1991 after the accident at reactor No. 4.

On 26 April 1986, a chain reaction caused by a power surge destroyed reactor 4, unleashing radiation that contaminated large areas of what was then the Soviet Union (now Belarus, Russia and Ukraine). Thirty-one people died immediately, and 600,000 “liquidators” took part in clean-up operations, receiving high doses of radiation.

The accident demonstrates how design-related aspects in conjunction with operational and behavioural errors can lead to unexpected consequences. The disaster also demonstrates the importance of back-up emergency core cooling systems to remove excess heat.

6. Fukushima NPP

Located in the earthquake zone, Fukushima Daiichi features 11 boiling water reactor units. Eight of the eleven were unaffected by the earthquake and tsunami, but the other three lost their off-site power supply lines which kept cooling systems running, preventing the reactors from achieving ‘cold shutdown’ status.

The main problem was contaminated water in the reactor and turbine buildings, as well as contaminated water from tsunami inundation and leakage, which had to be pumped away and stored in tanks. This water contains tritium, a mildly radioactive form of hydrogen.

TEPCO has now developed a method for releasing tritiated water back into the ocean, and plans to do so in August 2023. But many evacuated residents are still unable to return home due to government restrictions based on conservative radiation dose rates.

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