Building Baltic

7 February 2018

Russia is seeking European cooperation for Baltic nuclear power plant

Russian state nuclear Corporation Rosatom is continuing with development of the Baltic nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad, Grigory Nazarov told Nuclear Engineering International. Nazarov is chief executive of JSC Atomenergopromsbyt, an industry operator established to provide power for Rosatom’s organisations. In April 2016, the company became part of nuclear trading company Tekhsnabexport (Tenex).

The Baltic project originally comprised two VVER reactors with capacity of at least 1170MWe each, to be commissioned in 2016 and 2018. Their power would be exported to the surrounding region. However, construction was suspended in 2013 when neighbouring European states made it clear that they would not buy the electricity. Rosatom suspended the project to review its technical features, including the possibility of building small reactors at the site instead.

Rosatom is continuing negotiations with European companies on the possibility of power exports, but the project is being refocused on serving the united grid of the Baltics and northwest Russia.

Russian officials say that although the project has been suspended, it has not been abandoned. Equipment manufacture continues under existing contracts and the equipment is being stored in ten warehouses on the Baltic NPP construction site. The site drainage system is already in place.

Nazarov said the pace of construction has been slowed, “due to the decision of Baltic countries to synchronise ... with European grids, which requires an update of the project concept.” Despite the slowdown the site is being maintained safely and is ready to continue with active construction. “At present we are evaluating and detailing technical aspects of the grid connection, taking into account most likely scenarios for synchronisation of the Baltic energy system. In parallel Rosatom is taking measures to organise power sales and to engage with partners in the construction phase of the Baltic NPP and grid infrastructure related works,” he added.

The planned VVER-1200 generation 3+ reactors had safety standards in line with post-Fukushima requirements, and much of the preparatory work has been undertaken. Nazarov said this included building infrastructure such as office buildings, armature manufacturing, warehousing, a 110/10kV substation, network engineering and access roads. “Construction of almost 40% of the [structures] at unit 1 has been started, as well as construction of around 20% of the [structures] at unit 2,” he noted. “The construction site is [being] maintained so that works and the main construction phase can be resumed in a short period of time. The safety of buildings has been secured, and the construction site is continuously under maintenance, ecological and security control.”

As for equipment, around two thirds has been contracted. Manufactured equipment has been accepted on site since 2010, while oversized equipment is stored at the manufacturer’s site. “Currently, the Baltic NPP has accepted around 21% of contracted equipment, most of which is stored in the warehouse,” Nazarov said. 

Meeting European needs

Dmitry Sukhanov, director general of JSC Atomenergopromsbyt, said in 2016: “The [Baltic] project falls within the framework of European Union energy policy and its implementation will contribute to the stabilisation of electricity prices, CO2 emissions reduction, as well as a significant improvement in the reliability of power supply to regional consumers.”

Nazarov said, “The developed pre-feasibility study shows successful implementation and grid connection of the Baltic NPP will significantly strengthen the grid infrastructure and cross border interconnections of the region, which is facing an acute shortage of interconnections. According to our estimates, the ENTSO-E method (cost benefit analysis) shows a significant positive influence on the socio-economic welfare of the region”.

In operation, Baltic will avoid 19Mt of CO2 emissions each year – equivalent to about 17% of the annual emissions of the power sector in Poland. “Furthermore the construction of a reliable, secure source of power, such as the Baltic NPP, would contributes to price stabilisation in the region, increase security of supply and bring significant socio- economic benefits,” Nazarov added.

However, the project is still not fully accepted by the Baltic countries. “While engaging with some of the stakeholders in the Baltic region, we increasingly face opinions which are not based on economic or technical arguments but on political arguments. We are convinced that only equal consideration of all energy projects and a level playing field will make it possible to find the optimal solution for the power sector of the region,” he said. “We are optimistic that the interest of the customers will prevail, and the market integration of the Baltic NPP will be seen as a good compromise for the Baltic countries, ensuring stability and reliability of the grids without any additional financial burden for EU member states.”

Atomenergopromsbyt argues that Baltic will accelerate development of the region. “We propose that our European partners participate in construction, operation and maintenance of the Baltic NPP and its grid infrastructure,” Nazarov told NEI.

“We hope that our European partners will take a pragmatic approach and consider the economic interests of European citizens in assessing projects, contributing to international cooperation. From our side we are open to a comprehensive discussion about our project and invite all parties concerned to a non-politicised dialogue.”

As to the rest of Europe, Nazarov said that Baltic is “ready to consider power delivery to any country”. He said that interest is growing from European consumers and possible partners. “We have already signed preliminary power purchase agreements (PPAs) with leading European utilities and traders,” he noted. He added that, “besides concluding agreements on future power sales, we need to secure grid connection with sufficient capacity”.

Atomenergopromsbyt is “open to mutually beneficial cooperation with European partners, not only in joint power wholesale but in construction of the NPP and its grid connection facilities”.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Baltic plant is still valid. A peer review by a team of independent experts led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) between 2013 and 2015, at Rosatom’s request, recognised it as compliant with all IAEA recommendations. “The results of EIA have been once again confirmed by Antony Bexon, a member of the IAEA expert team which performed the independent peer review,” Nazarov said.

During his presentation to an international conference in Kaliningrad in October 2017 Bexon said that the expert group was satisfied with the answers prepared by the team which drafted the EIA and the follow up with the review team. “Based on the results of the peer review mission, conclusions were drawn that the radiological impact safety of the Baltic NPP is in compliance with relevant Safety Standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Bexon said. 

Baltic Construction of Baltic began in February 2012, but was suspended the following year

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