World’s first commercial small modular reactor powers up ‘brain’ in China

The dome of the “Linglong One” being lifted by the hoist, in Changjiang County, south China’s Hainan Province, February 6, 2024. /CMG

The dome of the “Linglong One” being lifted by the hoist, in Changjiang County, south China’s Hainan Province, February 6, 2024. /CMG

The main control room of China’s “Linglong One,” the world’s first commercial small modular reactor (SMR) on land, officially went into operation in south China’s Hainan Province on Tuesday, marking the start of a peak system equipment installation period for the reactor.

Just like the brain in the human body, the control room acts as the central nervous system for the plant. As the digital control network is gradually brought online, staff have begun testing equipment, monitoring its operation, and issuing commands from this critical hub.

Zhao Long, deputy director of engineering management at China National Nuclear Corporation’s (CNNC) Hainan branch, told China Media Group (CMG) that “compared with other nuclear power units, the Linglong One’s main control room equipment is more integrated and streamlined, and its safety of various operations has been greatly upgraded.”

Located in Changjiang County, the “Linglong One” is the first SMR globally to pass the universal safety review by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and its construction is expected to be finished by 2026. It is a multi-purpose small modular pressurized water reactor independently developed by the CNNC. 

With a power generation capacity of 125 megawatts, “Linglong One” can generate 1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year once completed, which can enable the needs of 526,000 households. This output is equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 880,000 tonnes, or 7.5 million trees, said the developer, CNNC.