China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) is to start construction of the country’s first third-generation nuclear power plant in March this year. The plant is expected to start operation in 2013 and will become the first in the world to employ Westinghouse’s AP1000 technology.

The 1100 MWe Sanmen power plant will be located in east China’s Zhejiang Province. Three further AP1000 units are planned: two at Haiyang in Shandong Province and a second unit at Sanmen.

Construction of the four plants is part of a wider plan by the Chinese government to rapidly expand the country’s nuclear generating capacity, to 40 GW by 2020. China currently has 11 units in operation, all of which use second-generation technology. In November 2007 French company Areva signed a contract with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp for the construction of two third-generation nuclear power plants. The first unit at Sanmen is expected to be operational by August 2013, with the remaining three units following in 2014 and 2015.

The SNPTC signed an agreement with Westinghouse Electric and its consortium partner, The Shaw Group, for four AP1000 units in July 2007. Westinghouse and its competitors submitted original bids for the four plants in February 2005.