A new record: here is the most productive nuclear reactor in human history


Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China / Image: IAEA, modified by RE.

Never before has a nuclear reactor produced so much electricity in a single year. Reactor No. 2 of the Taishan power plant (China), of the EPR type, broke the absolute production record. In 2023, it was able to produce 12.8 TWh of electricity thanks to excellent utilization. Could this record be broken by Flamanville, France’s only EPR, in the coming years?

It is clear that the No. 2 reactor at the Taishan Power Plant is setting new records. In 2023, EPR broke the record for electricity production by a nuclear reactor with 12,884.1 TWh. A record that already belonged to it, because in 2020 it was able to produce 12,454.8 GWh of electricity in its second year of operation. This production record was made possible by a remarkable utilization rate of 88.6%.

With its performance, Taishan 2 brings a glimmer of hope to the EPR sector, whose troubles continued even before construction of the first EPR began in August 2005. Incidents at various international construction sites piled up, causing a delay of 9 years. the Finnish reactor Olkiluoto 3 and 12 years for Flamanville. There are two reactors under construction in the UK Hinkley Point Power Station they are already 4 years behind schedule.


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Will Flamanville do better?

At this point, it’s hard to know if that record can be broken. All the different EPRs built around the world have almost the same performance. Thus, the annual production records in the coming years should depend primarily on the operating conditions of each reactor and its management. For example, Taishan 1, which was commissioned with Taishan 2 for only a few months, never exceeded 12 TWh of production due to numerous malfunctions, which prevents it from operating at full power for long periods of time. Since its commissioning, it has only 48.6% utilization compared to Taishan 2’s 77.7%. On the Flamanville side, hopefully the launch means the end of the hassle and it will work under heavy load. However, the first maintenance shutdown planned for the end of 2025 will prevent it from boasting high volumes during its first years of operation.



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