Small reactors for heat and power in Russia

12 December 2016

Four Russian cities have expressed an interest in using small reactors to supply heat and power, according to Yuriy Kuznetsov of NA Dollezhal Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET). A Rosatom feasibility study has concluded that up to 38 cogeneration reactors could potentially be deployed at 14 sites for this purpose.

In many Russian cities district heating is a common feature that sees a local power plant supply up to around 250 MWe to the grid, as well as process heat to a communal system to warm homes, schools, factories and offices. These systems have traditionally relied on fossil fuels but will need to change in line with incoming goals to gain in efficiency and to decarbonise, as set out by a Presidium of the State Council which specifically mentioned nuclear as a potential technology.

In response, NIKIET has completed the detailed design of the VK-300 reactor. The organisation's chief researcher, Yuriy Kuznetsov, spoke to Rosatom's 11th International Public Forum Dialogue in Moscow on 29 December.

VK-300 is a boiling water model with 750 MW thermal capacity and 150-250 MW electric depending on the required mix of heat and power. It uses proven components, including similar fuel elements to the large established VVER pressurized water design. Kuznetsov said VK-300 features fully passive cooling and safety features and has no need for operator action in an emergency or for offsite electricity or water supply. VK-300 has two containments and the consequences of any accident should not extend beyond the site boundary, he said.

The design was originally developed with a view to deployment at the Siberian Chemical Combine, but the new directive to modernise district heating across the country has prompted a 'comprehensive feasibility study' on VK-300 deployment in 2020-2030, said Kuznetsov. The study was based on potential deployment at Arkhangelsk, although there is not a firm proposal to do so. Nevertheless, the study also found public support in Arkhangelsk to be over 50%. VK-300 systems were considered to have a rate of return 1.6 times higher than fossil systems when financed at a 5% discount rate.

NIKIET counted 14 towns it considered suitable for two, three or four VK-300 units adding up to 38 units in total: Arkhangelsk,  Ishevsk, Ivanovo, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Kurgan, Murmansk, Perm, Tver, Ufa, Ulyanovsk, Vyatka and Yaroslavl. Furthermore, NIKIET was approached by Arkhangelsk, Perm, Tver and Ulyanovsk, whose officials expressed an interest in using nuclear energy for their heat and power needs.

The next step, said Kuznetsov, would be to set up a program to implement a pilot plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News