BEIJING, Nov 7 (Reuters) - China has started to build its first floating nuclear power reactor, which it plans to deploy off its coast by the end of the decade.
State-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) has begun construction of the ACPR50S reactor, and will acquire the reactor pressure vessel that encloses the reactor core from Dongfang Electric, CGN said in a statement on Friday.
The 200-megawatt reactor will help power offshore facilities in China’s open sea and island reefs, CGN said, adding that offshore energy supply is an issue that China has to overcome in order to become a naval power.
The ACPR50S project was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s state economic planner, earlier this year, together with plans for China National Nuclear Corp’s ACP100S floating reactor and China Shipbuilding Industry Corp’s proposal to turn an offshore military nuclear facility into a floating power station for civilian use.
In July, Chinese state media said China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote development in the South China Sea, soon after an international court ruled Beijing had no historic claims to most of the waters.
Sovereignty over the South China Sea is contested by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and any move to build nuclear reactors is bound to stoke further tension in the region.
Floating reactors were first proposed in the United States in the 1970s but then abandoned. The first demonstration of the technology is due to be launched in Russia next year. (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo, editing by Louise Heavens)