Unit 3 at Russia’s Novovoronezh NPP was shut down on 25 December, becoming the oldest VVER-440 reactor to enter decommissioning. The unit began operating in December 1971 and has produced more than 118.67TWh of electricity - more than half of the combined annual production of all of Russia's nuclear power plants, according to nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
The Novovoronezh site hosts a VVER-210 (unit 1), a VVER-365 (unit 2), two VVER-440s (units 3 and 4), a VVER-1000 (unit 5) with a VVER-1200 at unit 6.
Unit 6 was connected to the grid for the first time in early August and was operating at full power by the end of October. It is a VVER-1200/392M pressurized water reactor with a net capacity of 1114 MWe. Unit 6 is the first to go on line in what is termed Novovoronezh Phase II, giving rise to the alternate designation for Unit 6 as Novovoronezh II Unit 1. Construction of the second unit in Phase II – Novovoronezh 7 or Novovoronezh II unit 2 – is nearing completion. Construction of Units 6 and 7 began in June 2008 and July 2009.
Units 1 and 2 were shut down in 1984 and 1990. Unit 4's current operating licence expires at the end of next year, but it is expected to be granted an extension to 60 years. Rosenergoatom said some of the equipment from unit 3 would be used to upgrade unit 4. Unit 3 was upgraded between 1999 and 2002, and a 15-year licence extension was obtained for it to continue operations until the end of this year.
Rosenergoatom said Novovoronezh 3 was "the first of a dynasty" of the VVER-440 design, of which six units were built in Russia – two at Novovoronezh and four at Kola – as well as 29 overseas - in Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Ukraine. The company estimates that the market for decommissioning VVER-400 units abroad could be worth up to $29bn. Novovoronezh 3 will be a test case for such work, it added.