Armenia plans to extend operations at Metsamor unit

20 January 2021

Armenia plans to extend the service life of its nuclear power unit in Metsamor beyond 2026 and has not abandoned plans to build a new unit, ARKA news agency reported on 14 January, following Cabinet approval of the government's new energy strategy to 2040.

Metsamor nuclear power plant (Image: ANPP)

The Metsamor plant comprises two Russian-built 376 MWe VVER reactors which started operating in 1976 and 1980, respectively. Both units were taken off line in 1988 due to safety concerns regarding seismic vulnerability, although they both continued to operate and had not sustained any damage in a major earthquake in the region earlier that year. Unit 2 was restarted in 1995, and is subject to ongoing safety improvements. Unit 1 is now being decommissioned. Unit 2 accounts for 39% of total electricity generation in the country.

"The presence of a nuclear power plant in Armenia's power grid will allow us to diversify our energy resources, not to increase the country's dependence on imported natural gas, as well as to reduce the volume of emissions," the strategy document states, according to ARKA. "The government remains committed to its policy of having a nuclear power plant in the country's generating capacity. In this context, it should be noted that the option of maximizing the life of the existing nuclear power plant is a guarantee of the development of the system at the lowest cost," it adds.

The current investment programme to extend the operating life of unit 2 will be completed by 2023, by which time a total of USD330 million will have been invested, and the operating life of the unit will be extended until 2026. If the operation of unit 2 beyond 2026 is proved to be safe, then it will continue until 2036, which will require additional investment of about USD150 million.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News