Life extension of Armenian NPP continues but new plant still in doubt

22 April 2016

Activities on the service life extension project at unit 2 of Armenian NPP are on schedule and under budget, according to Kirill Komarov, first deputy director general of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. He was commenting on the results of the meeting of the joint coordinating committee for the service life extension project held in Yerevan on 20 April. The meeting discussed recent examinations of the equipment and pipelines of the reactor installation, as well as upgrades and equipment replacements, safety systems and turbine equipment.

"The main work has been completed on the integrated examination of systems, structures and components of the power unit; 40 schedules of equipment deliveries were developed and part of them have been approved by the Armenian authorities, including supplies of key equipment of the turbine," Komarov said. Russian has given Armenia a preferential credit of $270m and a grant of $30m for implementation of the upgrading and service life. In 2015 the project work funding was planned at $7m.

The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant, with two VVER 440-V230 light-water reactors, was built in the 1970s but was closed following the 1988 earthquake. Unit 2 was restarted in 1995 in face of severe energy shortages, and currently generates some 35% of Armenia's electricity.

Armenian deputy energy and natural resources minister Areg Galstyan said the planned modernization of unit 2 will significantly improve the facility's safety. He noted that after the unit was recommissioned in 1995 extensive work was done to improve its safety. More recently, the Fukushima disaster prompted a new safety study, and a list of safety improvement measures was drawn up which are now being carried out.

The Armenian authorities are hoping to build a new NPP, with twice the capacity, to replace the ageing plant. Shortly after he came to power in 2008, President Serzh Sarkisian promised to replace the ageing nuclear plant at Metsamor. However, the government has so far failed to attract the estimated $5bn in investments required. Komarov said Rosatom is ready to build the plant if it is economically viable. "We understand that in terms of technology it is possible to build one more power unit on the site of Armenian NPP, but the key issue is that for this construction it is necessary to secure the parameters which would confirm that it would operate efficiently and be cost effective," he told journalists in Yerevan. This will be determined by "electricity consumption in Armenia and the possibility of exporting power to neighbouring states", he concluded. Last October Armenia's minister of energy and natural resources of Ervand Zakharyan told journalists that preference would be given to medium power units of 600MWe.

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