By Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh
BEIJING, April 14 (Reuters) - China National Nuclear Corp CNNNC.UL (CNNC) said on Wednesday it expects to start construction of its first Hualong Two, an advanced model of its third-generation power reactor, by 2024.
Construction of the Hualong Two reactor will take four years to build, said Cao Shudong, CNNC vice general manager, at a nuclear forum in Beijing on Wednesday, instead of the average five years it takes for Hualong One units.
Construction costs will drop by about a fourth to 13,000 yuan ($1,990) per kilowatt (kW), from 17,000 yuan per kW with the Hualong One design, he said.
Cao told Reuters the Hualong Two would be more simplified compared with the Hualong One but would not compromise safety and that the basic technology would remain the same. Cao did not say what capacity the first Hualong Two reactor would have.
Hualong One is a home-grown design that competes with the Westinghouse-developed AP1000 and Europe's EPR technology.
China's first domestic Hualong One reactor was completed and connected to the grid last year. CNNC also has six overseas Hualong One projects under construction.
China needs to speed up its nuclear development to achieve its pledge to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak before 2030 and become "carbon neutral" by 2060.
China's Nuclear Energy Association expects the country to have installed and have under construction 200 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2035.
In March, China said in its 2021-2025 five-year plan it would raise installed nuclear capacity to 70 GW by end-2025. Capacity reached 51 GW at the end of last year, short of its 58 GW target.
It currently has 17 nuclear power units under construction totalling 18.58 GW.
Separately, the Huaneng Group will start nuclear fuel loading this month at its Shidaowan High Temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR-PM) plant in the northern province of Shandong.
The HTR-PM reactor will drive a 200 MW steam turbine and connect to China's grid in November 2021, said Wang Wenzong, vice general manager of Huaneng, at the same nuclear conference.
($1 = 6.5338 yuan)
(Reporting by Shivani Singh and Muyu Xu; Editing by Tom Hogue)
((ShivaniSingh2@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 5669 2115;