First VVER-1200 reactor enters commercial operation

02 March 2017

Russia has announced the start of commercial operation of its first VVER-1200 reactor, unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II nuclear power plant.

Novovoronezh-II unit 1 - 460 (Rosatom)
Novovoronezh II unit 1 (Image: Rosatom)

Also known as Novovoronezh 6, the unit was connected to the network in early August last year, but Rosatom said this week that it had officially started commercial operation on 27 February. This followed approval to include power generated by the unit in the country's wholesale electricity market, the state nuclear corporation said.

Jacques Regaldo, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators, congratulated Rosatom on its achievement during his meeting with the corporation's director general, Alexey Likhachov, in Moscow. Rosatom said yesterday that Regaldo had visited the Novovoronezh plant.

"The personnel of Novovoronezh NPP should be proud of the start of the commercial operation of the VVER-1200. I would like to wish your team the long and safe operation of the new unit," Regaldo said, according to the Rosatom statement.

Novovoronezh 6 is a VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor unit with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe. It is the first 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. Construction of Novovoronezh II units 1 and 2 - or Novovoronezh units 6 and 7 - began in June 2008 and July 2009, respectively. The original Novovoronezh site nearby already hosts three operating reactors and two that are being decommissioned.

Andrei Petrov, general director of Russia's civil nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom, on 27 February "signed the order" directing the start of the unit's commercial operation.

This followed issuance by regulator Rostekhnadzor of a "certificate of compliance" of the the unit's design documentation, technical regulations and regulatory legal acts, including requirements for energy efficiency, Rosatom said.

The unit was "first included in the unified energy system of the country and started the production of electric power on 5 August 2016", Rosatom said. All the inspections and tests during the unit's pilot operation, which were carried out at different power levels and in different operating modes, were completed successfully, it said. Then, on 23 February, "comprehensive testing at 100% of the unit's capacity" over 15 days was completed, "confirming its ability to stably carry the load in accordance with its design parameters", it said.

By the time of entering commercial operation, the unit had produced 1.691 TWh of power.

Povarov said: "I'm grateful to the team at Novovoronezh NPP for their hard work, not only in putting the unit into commercial operation, but also their no less hard work in preparing the necessary documentation to be submitted to Rostekhnadzor."

Compared to "conventional" VVER-1000 AES-2006 units, the first Novovoronezh II reactor has a number of advantages, which significantly increases its economic performance and safety, Rosatom said. In this way, the reactor features a 20% increase in electrical capacity of 1200 MWe. In addition, the life of the main equipment - the reactor pressure vessel and the steam generators - has doubled, from 30 to 60 years. The high-level of automation and the introduction of new technological solutions, means the number of personnel involved in the reactor's operation has decreased, compared with a VVER-1000 unit, by 25-30%.

The unit fully complies with the International Atomic Energy Agency's post-Fukushima requirements, Rosatom said. The main feature of the technology is the use of additional passive safety systems that do not require the intervention of nuclear power plant personnel. The design includes passive heat removal from the reactor, hydrogen recombiners and a core melt trap, or core catcher.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News