Two Russian NPPs prepare for startup

23 February 2018

Unit 4 of Russia’s Rostov NPP near Volgodonsk on 19 February received a licence for the pilot operation from Russian regulator Rostechnadzor. Rostov NPP is a branch of nuclear utility Rosenergoatom (part of state nuclear corporation  Rosatom).

Rostov 4 was connected to the grid on 1 February and immediately brought to 300MWe, or 40%, of its capacity for four hours before being stopped for equipment tests and to confirm the design characteristics of safe operation. Deputy chief engineer Svyatoslav Chukavin said in today's power capacity will now gradually be increased to 100%, with further testing at each stage. Preparations for the physical startup of the 4 began in December, with the loading of 163 fuel assemblies and Rostechnadzor issued a permit for startup operations in January. Rosatom said the unit would contribute RUB1bn ($18m) a year to the federal budget, and about RUB1.7bn in property tax in its first year of commercial operation.

Four 1000MWe VVER pressurised water reactors were planned at the Rostov site in the early 1980s. Construction of units 1 and 2 began immediately but was frozen in the face of economic difficulties in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Rostov 1&2 eventually entered commercial operation in 2001 and 2010, and Rostov 3 was connected to the grid in 2015. The launch of Rostov 4 will ensure stable supply energy to the entire southern region of Russia. Rostov NPP already provides over 40% of electricity in the region, and this will rise to 54% when Rostov 4 comes online.

Commercial operation at Rostov 4 is expected in spring, before operation of unit 1 of the Leningrad II NPP in Sosnovy Bor, which is also nearing startup.
Rosenergoatom said on 19 February that it had completed all stages of the physical startup process for the unit, including achieving the first criticality and operating at minimum controlled power. Operators have also completed several post-startup tests. Leningrad II-1 is a Generation III+ VVER-1200/491 nuclear unit. Construction of began in October 2008. Rosenergoatom said grid connection and the start of commercial test mode operation are scheduled for spring.

Meanwhile, unit 2 at Leningrad-II is preparing for the installation of turbine rotors. Currently, four low-pressure rotors and one high-pressure rotor are already in the engine room of the turbine building. To install them, it is necessary to remove the covers of the low-pressure cylinders. The weight of each lid is 72 tons.

Elsewhere in Russia, Atomenergomash,  Rosatom’s the power engineering division, has begun manufacturing significant components for unit 1 of the Kursk-II NPP. The equipment will include a set of four steam generators, tubes for the main circulation loops and the pressuriser. Construction of Kursk II began in June 2016. The plant is intended to replace four RBMK reactors at the existing Kursk NPP which are nearing the end of their design life. Kursk II will have four Generation III+ VVER-TOI units. Commissioning of the first two will be synchronised with the decommissioning of Kursk 1&2 at the existing station after 2021 and 2022. Collectors for the steam generators will be manufactured at Petrozavodsk branch of AEM-technologies. Blanks collectors have already entered production and are being machined before surfacing.

Photo: Rostov 4 (Credit: Rosatom)

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