Grid connection for new Russian reactor

18 March 2010

The second reactor at Russia's Volgodonsk nuclear power plant was today synchronized with the regional electricity grid, having reached 35% of its generating capacity. The unit is set to start commercial operation later this year.


Volgodonsk (Rosenergoatom)
Volgodonsk units 1 and 2 (Image: Rosenergoatom)
The start-up procedure of Volgodonsk 2 began on 19 December, with the loading of 163 fuel assemblies into its core completed on 24 December 2009. Operation of the 1000 MWe reactor began on the morning of 21 January and it reached the minimum controlled power level (about 1%) the following day. Power has since been gradually raised to 35% capacity, a level at which the plant is capable of producing sufficient steam to run the turbines and for the plant to run in the normal mode of operation.


Yesterday, Nikolai Kutyin, head of Russian nuclear regulator Rostekhnadzor, declared during a visit to the site that the V-320 type VVER pressurized water reactor was ready to be connected to the grid. He said that the conditions of the construction licence for Volgodonsk 2 had been met and that no violations of Russia's nuclear energy regulations had been made in the unit’s construction.


The reactor was connected with the United Energy System (UES) grid today during a ceremony attended by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and it now supplies the region with an additional 300 MWe of power. According to the schedule for Volgodonsk 2's start-up, power will next be raised to 40% and then to 50% by the end of May 2010, when the plant will be handed over to Rosenergoatom for pilot commercial operation. It is set to begin full commercial operation in October 2010, when power should have reached 100% capacity and acceptance tests completed.


Earlier this week, a team of international experts started conducting a pre-operational peer review of Volgodonsk 2 on behalf of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). The 14-strong team will look at areas including organization and administration, maintenance, engineering support, radiation protection, staff experience and training, as well as fire safety. The review is expected to be completed by 26 March.


The Volgodonsk plant is sometimes known as Rostov, after its region. Four 1000 MWe VVER pressurized water reactors were planned there in the early 1980s and some construction took place before work was stopped.


Construction of Volgodonsk 1, also a V-320 type VVER, began in 1978 and finally began operating in March 2001. Construction started on unit 2 in 1983, but was halted in the late 1990s, resuming in 2002. However, progress was slow until the project was kick-started again in 2007 as part of a major Russian initiative to maximise domestic nuclear power production in order to maximise the value of gas reserves.


Volgodonsk Units 3 and 4 were both ordered in 1983. These are now to be larger VVER-1200 types. Construction of unit 3 began again in late 2009, with commercial operation set for 2013. Unit 4 is scheduled to start commercial operation in 2014.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News


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