China launches world’s first fourth-generation nuclear reactor

China launches fourth-generation nuclear reactor, world's first

China has achieved a significant milestone with the commencement of commercial operations at the Shidao Bay plant, located in the eastern Shandong province. This marks the inauguration of the world’s first next-generation, gas-cooled nuclear reactor power plant, as reported by state media. The plant boasts two high-temperature reactors cooled by gas, a departure from conventional pressurized water cooling systems, resulting in enhanced efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Known as small modular reactors (SMRs), these advanced models go beyond conventional electricity production and can be employed for diverse applications such as heating, desalination, or industrial steam generation. China’s strategic move to develop and deploy SMRs aligns with its broader goal of reducing dependence on coal-fired power plants and mitigating reliance on foreign technologies, particularly amid tensions with Western countries.

Over 90% of the Shidao Bay plant’s equipment is of Chinese origin, underscoring the nation’s commitment to domestic innovation and self-sufficiency. The project, initiated in 2012, reached a key milestone in 2021 when the first SMR was connected to the power grid.

Proponents argue that the versatility and streamlined architecture of multi-use SMRs position them as pivotal players in global decarbonization and the transition to sustainable energy. Their modular design is expected to contribute to cost reduction and faster construction timelines.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that over 80 SMR projects are currently in development across 18 countries, indicating a growing global interest in this innovative nuclear technology.”

Sumann Senguptaa

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