Rosatom postpones fast reactor project, report says

13 August 2019

Rosenergoatom is expected to receive about RUB280 billion (USD4 billion) less in state funding for the construction of new nuclear reactors in Russia owing to the postponement of its fast neutron reactor programme, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported last week, citing anonymous sources. Rosenergoatom is the nuclear power plant operator subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

The BN-800 at Beloyarsk unit 4 (Image; Rosenergoatom)

Rosatom's investment plan received preliminary approval during a meeting in the Russian Energy Ministry on 2 August, according to the article, with funding out to 2035 to total RUB880 billion and not the RUB1.16 trillion Rosatom had allocated for the two new VVER-1200 units under construction for the Kursk II project, units 3 and 4 for the Leningrad II project and a BN-1200 fast reactor at Beloyarsk. Commissioning of the BN-1200 has been postponed to 2036, the article said, from the previous target of 2027.

Financing to pay for the new units will be paid back over 20 years, with an average rate of return on investment of 10.5% per year, the article said. Rosatom is prepared to consider a lower rate of return, it added.

Russia's new investment cycle for its electricity sector will also take into account modernisation work at thermal power plants, the construction of remote energy facilities and the development of renewable energy sources. The funds must however be "distributed among market participants so that wholesale energy market prices do not rise above inflation", the article said. The reduction in funding reflects "the restriction on tariff growth by inflation", it added, and thus the launch of the BN-1200 will "most likely be postponed to 2036 in order to reduce energy market spending".

A Russian government decree published in August 2016 indicated the country planned to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors by 2030 - including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors. The BN-1200 units are to be built at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear power plants. The BN-800 fast neutron reactor - constructed as unit 4 of the Beloyarsk plant in the Sverdlovsk district - entered commercial operation in October 2016. The 789 MWe unit's capacity exceeds that of the world's second most powerful fast reactor - the 560 MWe BN-600 Beloyarsk 3. The planned Beloyarsk 5 BN-1200 will use larger fuel elements than the BN-600 and BN-800 and have a simplified refuelling procedure. Russian nuclear engineering company OKBM Afrikantov is developing the BN-1200 as a next step towards future reactor designs, commonly known as Generation IV.

According to the Kommersant article, the capex of the BN-800 amounted to RUB140.6 billion.

A Rosatom spokeswoman said on 15 August that, according to the General Scheme of Electric Power Engineering Facilities Placement through 2035, which was approved by the government in June 2017, the BN-1200 type unit is expected to be commissioned at the Beloyarsk plant between 2031 and 2035.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News