October commercial operation target for second Belarus unit

06 March 2023

Energy minister Viktor Karankevich has said the aim is for the second unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant to be put into commercial operation in October 2023.

President Lukashenko, centre, at the meeting to discuss progress on the nuclear power plant (Image: gov.by)

The plan is for the first trial connection to the network for the second power unit to take place in April, with Belarusia's Belta news agency quoting Karankevich as saying that power would be increased to 40%.

He added: "In April-September, work will be carried out sequentially to bring the reactor plant to its nominal capacity with testing as part of pilot operation. The readiness for commissioning of the nuclear power plant as a whole in accordance with the commissioning programmes is predicted in October 2023."

The minister, speaking after a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, said that the second unit was 98% ready and preparatory work "is under way at the final stage to start a chain reaction and bring the reactor plant to the minimum controllable level" of 1% of reactor power.

At the meeting to discuss the Belarusian nuclear power plant, President Lukashenko said "the construction of Belarus's first nuclear power plant is one of the biggest and most technologically advanced projects that we have carried out together with the Russians" and the first unit had generated more than 12.5 billion kWh since it went online, which allowed replacing more than 3 billion cubic metres of gas and saving more than USD400 million for the country.

He said that "radiation safety and operational reliability of the nuclear power plant is a priority of priorities ... I know that Russians sometimes complain that we put forward excessive safety and security demands. But they must understand that we are the country that was affected by the Chernobyl disaster, therefore, safety is a number one issue, and we will demand the highest level of safety and absolute compliance with construction standards".

In May 2022, the energy ministry had said it hoped to connect the second unit to the grid in 2022. But Lukashenko warned against "compromising the quality of construction" to hit a target date, saying it was better to delay for six months or a year.

The first power unit of Belarus's nuclear power plant was connected to the grid in November 2020 and, the energy ministry says, by the time it was put into scheduled maintenance in April, it had generated 9.3 TWh of electricity.

It says that once both units - Russian VVER-1200 reactors - are commissioned, the plant will produce about 18.5 TWh of electricity per year, equivalent to 4.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas, with an annual effect on the country's economy of about USD550 million.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News