Armenia pushes on with life extension

26 January 2016

Armenia is to go ahead with plans for the life extension of unit 2 at the Armenian nuclear power plant (ANPP) near Metsamor to ensure operation until 2027, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Yervand Zakaryan told local media.

Preparatory work is already underway, and the 375MWe Russian-supplied VVER-440 V270 unit will be taken offline early next year for "a general overhaul". In May 2015 the Armenian parliament approved two agreements with Russia whereby Russia will provide Armenia with credit of $270m and a grant of $30m for the work. The funds will be provided for 15 years with a 5-year grace period and the rate of 3% per annum. Unit 2 will be shut down for six months in 2017 to undertake major work including turbine modernisation to increase power by 15-18%, to 435-440MWe net.

Unit 1 of the ANPP began operating in 1976 and unit 2 in 1980. The plant is sited near an earthquake-prone locality, the seismic stability of which is magnitude 8. Because of this it was constructed to withstand up to a 9-magnitude earthquake. In December 1988, a powerful earthquake, resulting in the deaths of at least 25,000 people, occurred in northwestern Armenia and although the plant continued operating normally with no damage, both units were subsequently shut down in 1989 due to safety concerns regarding seismic vulnerability.

Unit 1 is now being decommissioned but in 1993, it was decided to restart unit 2 in face of a severe energy crisis and it was recommissioned with Russian assistance in 1995. Since then the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been participating in safety improvements at the plant, which was scheduled to close in 2016 but will now continue until a planned new unit is commissioned.

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