China: Homes of 200,000 residents in Haiyang now fully heated by nuclear power

The residents of Haiyang city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong, China have begun to receive nuclear power-generated central heating for winter.
A person riding a tricycle with an umbrella during snowfall in China’s eastern Shandong province. More than 200,000 residents of Haiyang city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong, China have begun to receive nuclear power-generated central heating for winter. (AFP)
A person riding a tricycle with an umbrella during snowfall in China’s eastern Shandong province. More than 200,000 residents of Haiyang city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong, China have begun to receive nuclear power-generated central heating for winter. (AFP)
Updated on Nov 10, 2021 07:42 AM IST
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BySutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The urban area of a city in eastern China on Tuesday became the country’s first to be fully heated by nuclear power, making it the only “zero carbon” Chinese city, state media reported.

More than 200,000 residents of Haiyang city in the eastern coastal province of Shandong have begun to receive nuclear power-generated central heating for winter, the report said, adding that the clean heating was switched on six days ahead of schedule.

It is China’s first commercial nuclear heating project.

The development comes in the backdrop of crippling energy shortages that China faced in September and October, partly triggered by coal companies cutting production to meet Beijing’s climate change pledges - peak carbon emission by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.

Trials to generate nuclear power for winter heating in Haiyang had begun earlier.

As part of the trial, the Haiyang nuclear power plant in Shandong province officially started providing district heating to the surrounding area in November, 2020.

A trial of the project was also carried out in 2019, providing heat to 700,000sq m of housing, including the plant’s dormitory and some local residents, according to the World Nuclear News (WNN) website.

“Consisting of two AP1000 units capable of heating a total of 700,000 square metres, the pilot project began operating at Haiyang nuclear power plant recently and is expected to eventually provide heating for more than 200 million sq m of housing,” Shandong Nuclear Power Co, a subsidiary of State Power Investment Corporation told state media earlier this year.

After the project was fully implemented on Tuesday, the Haiyang Nuclear Power Unit 1 became the world’s largest cogeneration unit, replacing 12 local coal-fired boilers.

A cogeneration unit, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is one where the heat generated by the nuclear power plants can be used to produce a vast range of products such as cooling, heating, process heat, desalination and hydrogen.

The new project “...is expected to save 100,000 tons of raw coal and reduce 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide and smoke during each heating season,” a report by thepaper.cn said.

Analysts told state media that “…compared to traditional thermal sources, nuclear reactors generate heat without carbon emissions and are considered a green replacement for coal-based heat, especially during winter heating seasons”.

“The Haiyang plant has a heating system connected to two traditional nuclear power units, making it the first commercial attempt in China to supply heat from traditional nuclear power,” Wei Hanyang, a power market analyst at Bloomberg New Energy told state-run China Daily.

By the end of September, 2020 China had 48 nuclear facilities in operation with an installed capacity of 49.88 GW, ranking third worldwide. At least 14 nuclear units are under construction with installed capacity reaching 15.53 GW.

Russia, several east European countries, Switzerland and Sweden have all had nuclear-fuelled district heating schemes, and heat from nuclear power plants has also been sent to industrial sites in several countries, the WNN report added.

In June, Beijing said there had been no leak at the Taishan nuclear power station in southern China after CNN reported that Framatome, the French company that designed the reactors, had said that China’s nuclear safety regulator had raised limits on permissible levels of radiation outside the plant in Guangdong to avoid having to shut it down.

The Chinese ecology and environment ministry said the allegation was “erroneous”.

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