Russia starts Novovoronezh II-2 fuel loading

20 February 2019

Rosenergoatom, the operator subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, has announced that initial fuel loading started yesterday as planned at unit 2 of the Novovoronezh II nuclear power plant in southwest Russia.

Fuel loading has started at Novovoronezh II-2 (Image: Rosatom)

Also known as Novovoronezh 7, the unit is a VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe. It is the second of two such units at Novovoronezh II - the lead project for the deployment of the AES-2006 design incorporating a Gidropress-designed PWR, an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000. Unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II plant, Russia's first VVER-1200 reactor, was connected to the grid in August 2016.

Rosenergoatom said the first batch of 163 fuel assemblies were successfully installed at 4:10pm with the remaining assemblies to be loaded within five days.

The initial fuel loading marks the beginning of the reactor’s start-up, the company said. The reactor will then achieve first criticality - the moment when a chain reaction is launched in a reactor for the first time and the core parameters required for the reactor's further operation are established. The next stages include connection to the grid, power ascension testing and the commencement of commercial operations.

Andrei Petrov, Rosenergoatom's director general, said the unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year.

Novovoronezh II-2 will be the third in the series of this type of PWR, following the launch of Novovoronezh II-1 in 2016 and Leningrad II-1 in 2017.

"The launch of the start-up of unit 2’s reactor at Novovoronezh II demonstrates Rosatom’s successful construction of Generation III+ reactors," Novovoronezh NPP Director Vladimir Povarov said. "It is the second reactor of its type on this site and the third in Russia. Several foreign countries have also chosen to use this technology, including Finland, Hungary, Bangladesh and Belarus. Overall, there are 36 units currently being developed by Rosatom in 12 countries," he added.

The new reactor design improves previous generation of VVER power units, including a 7% increase in capacity, reduction by 30-40% in the number of staff required, and doubling of the reactor’s expected operation to 60 years with a possibility of extending this to 80 years.

The launch of the reactor will bring the share of nuclear in Central Russia's electricity grid to 27% thus avoiding the emissions of more than 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year and boosting the region's economy, Rosatom said.

When Novovoronezh II-2 becomes operational, the plant's total capacity will increase to 3.2 GWe.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News