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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Faults Delay Chinese Power Plant

BEIJING -- Two Russian-built nuclear power plants in eastern China are delaying commercial operation by about half a year, following months of safety checks and repairs at one faulty unit, a senior industry official said Thursday.

The setback comes as the world's second-largest energy user embarks on a $50 billion nuclear power expansion scheme, which just a few months ago drew most of its advanced technology from France and the United States.

The delay at the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant could threaten talks on the planned expansion of the Tianwan facility with Moscow, whose nuclear technology was not as up-to-date.

"The first plant is still under test runs, which means under-capacity operations. The target date for full commercial runs is by June," said the official familiar with the 2.15-gigawatt project. The project represents a fraction of China's plan to boost its installed nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts in 13 years.

The schedule is behind an earlier one of late 2006.

But the delay is unlikely to divert China from using Russian technology in the Tianwan expansion, as Beijing sees Moscow as a strategic partner in the long run, holding abundant energy resources key to China's rapid economic growth.

And it would be much more costly to switch to another technology at the same site, industry experts said.