The idea of digital nuclear power plant was firstly mooted in the 1990s. With the concept of the full lifecycle management of nuclear power station, design data, construction data, commissioning data, real-time data and business process data for the project were integrating effectively from engineering period to operation period. Adopting advanced information technology, an intelligent or digital nuclear power plant would be constructed to achieve resources sharing across platforms for structured data and unstructured data. A full digital nuclear power plant system contains 5 basic parts: distributed control system, supervisor information system, management information system, plant simulation system, and decision support system.
Today, in China, the idea of digital nuclear power plant is on its way to being realized in the nuclear power plant construction.
The digitalized level of a nuclear power plant relies on the digitalized level of the control system. China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) is one of the most active company on designing the intelligent nuclear power plant system in China. In December of 2015, the major special project of nuclear power plant digital instrument control system with independent intellectual property right of which the R&D was led by CGN was approved by the Chinese National Energy Administration. This instrument control system is named “Harmony System”, and it is able to be installed in multiple type of Gen II, Gen III, and Gen III+ nuclear reactor unit. The “Harmony System” has already been installed in Yangjiang Nuclear Power Plant and High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors in Shidaowan Nuclear Power Plant. CGN is the first of China, and the fifth in the world to own this technology after companies in the United States, France, and Japan.
Besides, Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research & Design Institute (SNERDI) of State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) is undergoing the designing of the digital control system for CAP1400 reactors as well. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) also announced its goal of a full digital nuclear power set for its Hualong reactor in Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant.
From the previous experiences, an installed digital nuclear system can save millions dollar a year for the operation of a nuclear power plants. Additionally, a digital nuclear system has better capability in the management of general operation accidents in the nuclear power plant.
Presently, the digital nuclear system only takes a little part of the nuclear industry. In my opinion, the digitization of nuclear power plants should be a continuous trend of the development of the global nuclear industry and there will be a big potential market in the future.
Do you agree? What is your opinion on digital nuclear power plants?