Russia connects Novovoronezh 6 reactor to grid

05 August 2016

Russia has connected its first VVER-1200 nuclear power unit to the grid. Unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II nuclear power plant in western Russia generated its first 240 MWe for the national grid after connection to the network at 3.35am local time yesterday, Rosatom announced today.

Novovoronezh 6 grid connection - 460 (Rosatom)
Novovoronezh control room operators witness grid connection of unit 6 (Image: Rosatom)

Also known as Novovoronezh 6, the unit is a VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe. It is the first of two 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.

Grid connection of Novovoronezh 6 followed "turbine start from rest", Rosatom said, and its trial operation in idle mode. The unit's operators completed "a large set of checks and tests at different power build up stages, as well as inspection of the various equipment", the state nuclear corporation added. "These measures were necessary to confirm the reliability and safety of the power unit in its further operation," it said.

Andrey Petrov, general director of Rosenergoatom, said the unit's connection to the grid was a "crowning moment" in the huge amount of work required for installation and adjustment of the unit's equipment, and the "complex process operations". Petrov said the work had been carried out "reliably and safely", with operating personnel "clearly understanding" the processes involved. Rosenergoatom is Rosatom's civilian nuclear power plant operator subsidiary.

Valery Limarenko, president of general contractor Nizhny Novgorod Engineering Company (NIAEP), said the launch of Novovoronezh 6 "opens up new opportunities for building up our presence in the global market".

Recently consolidated NIAEP-JSC ASE consists of more than 20 entities, with the major players being Atomstroyexport, which specialises in the construction of overseas nuclear power plants; NIAEP, which builds units in Russia; and general design company Moscow Atomenergoproekt. It also includes engineering company Spetzenergomontazh and Nikimt-Atomstroy, which designs and builds used nuclear fuel facilities. ASE Group consolidates the engineering know-how of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom through the ongoing merger of NIAEP, ASE and Atomenergoproekt.

Launch of the unit will increase the total capacity of the Novovoronezh plant 1.5 times, Rosatom said, and give "strong impetus" to the economic development of the Voronezh region.

"After commissioning, additional estate tax revenues are expected to be equal to RUB2 billion ($3 million) in the first year," the corporation said.

The new Novovoronezh units will have a passive heat removal system that, in the event of loss of on-site power supply, will provide long-term heat removal from the reactor core to the atmosphere using natural circulation.

Russian regulator Rostechnadzor issued the operating licence for Novovoronezh 6 on 23 March, thus permitting first criticality and eventual commercial operation of the unit. The first fuel assembly was loaded at the unit on 24 March, while the "active phase" of the loading process began the following day.

In June, Rosatom announced installation of the outer shell of the containment building dome at Novovoronezh 7. The dome, which was installed in November 2014, forms part of the unit's double-walled containment structure - a major component for protecting the reactor and preventing the release of radioactive materials into the environment in the event of a serious accident. It is a key feature of the AES-2006 design.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News