After a change of contractors, Russian officials have put forward the start-up dates of three new reactors. Plans for southern Russia are being revised.
The news came from a conference held at Volgodonsk by the heads of some of the main entities of the Russian nuclear industry. Sergei Kiriyenko, director general of the Rosatom corporation, chaired the meeting while the directors and deputies of Rosenergoatom, Atomenergomash and NIIAEP were also present, along with those of AtomEnergoProm, which is set to control almost all commercial activity in future.
Kiriyenko said that the decision to install NIIAEP as main contractor on the construction of Volgodonsk 2 instead of Rosatomstroy had been correct. Better working relationships between companies on site have meant "the situation has changed," according to Kiriyenko, who added: "we can say that we will be able to launch the unit by the end of 2009."
Officials explain construction progress to Sergei Kiriyenko during a plant tour (Image: Rosenergoatom)
Furthermore, the rapid advance of projects at Volgodonsk has made it clear that nuclear plans in the southern Rostov region are now out of step with those predicted in an overarching federal plan. Kiriyenko said the plan is already in the process of revision.
It now appears that Volgodonsk 3 and 4 could be completed in 2013 and 2014, ahead of the currently scheduled dates of 2014 and 2016 respectively. Kiriyenko said, "I think that this is an absolutely realistic suggestion in terms of technological schedules. I think that this is the result of the anti-crisis work carried out at the second unit of the plant and the contractors' efforts to build effective relationships."
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.
Unit 1 was completed in 2000 and the completion of the rest is now part of an overall power investment scheme which would see 42 new reactors in Russia by 2020. Similar investment is being made in the hydroelectric sector with the aim of sourcing 50% of electricity from these low-carbon sources. The fuel-switching also means more oil and gas for export.