Iran's first nuclear power plant has been connected to the country's national electricity grid.
|Bushehr - now connected (Image: AEOI)
According to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), the 1000 MWe reactor began supplying around 60 MWe to the grid at 11.29 pm on 4 September. The plant is expected to reach 40% capacity during a ceremony to be held on 12 September.
The Bushehr plant has been a long time coming. German constructor Siemens KWU began work on two pressurized water reactors at the Persian Gulf site in 1975, but work was abandoned in 1979. At the time, one unit was substantially complete and the second unit was around 50% complete, but the site was damaged by air strikes during the war between Iran and Iraq in 1984-1988.
Then, in 1994, Minatom of Russia agreed with AEOI to complete Bushehr unit 1 as a VVER-1000 unit, using mostly the infrastructure already in place. This plan also necessitated major changes, including fabrication of all the main reactor components in Russia under a construction contract with AtomStroyExport.
More recently, the startup of the plant was delayed after the discovery of debris from damaged coolant pumps - part of the equipment supplied in the 1970s - necessitated the unloading of all the fuel so that the reactor internals and main circulation pipeline station could be flushed through and inspected. The fuel was reloaded in April and the plant achieved first criticality in May 2011.
In its own announcement of the grid connection, AtomStroyExport described the construction of Bushehr as "unprecedented and unparalleled" from a design point of view, integrating Russian equipment into a plant initially of German design and involving the design and manufacture of new equipment.
Nuclear fuel for the plant is being supplied by Russia, where it will be returned after use as another extraordinary aspect of the project. Agreements signed by Russia and Iran in 2005 mean that fuel supplies for the plant are assured for the foreseeable future without any need for local uranium enrichment. The fuel, like all the construction work and operation of the plant itself, is under full International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, despite the high-profile and serious disagreements with IAEA over Iran's uranium enrichment activities.
According to AEOI head Fereydoun Abbasi, the power plant will be officially inaugurated at its full capacity in late November or early December.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News