China completes world’s first onshore modular nuclear reactor

The world’s first onshore commercial modular pressurized water reactor, Linglong One, completed its final stage of construction in Hainan province, according to reports.

The Linglong One, also known as the ACP100, a small modular reactor (SMR), and was the first SMR to be approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2016. Each unit has power generating capacity of 125 megawatts (MW). The reactor was designed in China.

It was designed to complement the state-run CNNC’s larger third-generation 1,170-MW “Hualong One” reactors, which China is planning to roll out rapidly at home and promote overseas.

Reuters reports that SMRs are cheaper and quicker to build than traditional reactors, and can also be deployed in remote regions and on ships and aircraft. Their “modular” format means they can be shipped by container from the factory and installed relatively quickly on any proposed site.

China has been looking into using small reactors to provide urban heating in the north and run desalination facilities along the coast.

SMRs are safer than and less exposed to dangers like earthquakes and meltdowns than traditional large-scale reactors. They also generate less nuclear waste. Importantly, SMRs can also be safely turned off and restarted, unlike conventional plants.

An increasing number of small commercial reactors will be used in areas across China, including islands, mining areas, industrial parks and remote areas.

Once it is fully operational, Linglong One will become a turning point for the nuclear energy industry, ushering in a new era of multi-purpose nuclear energy.