Life extension is set to start shortly at Metsamor 2, Armenia's only operating nuclear plant, which supplies some 30% of the country's electricity.

In April, the 375MWe VVER-440 reactor will be closed for two months and will work below capacity for another four months while the work is carried out.  In December, Rusatom Service, part of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, delivered the first of two replacement turbogenerators for the plant. The generators, manufactured by Rosatom subsidiary PJSC Power Machines, are being supplied under a 2014 agreement to extend the life of the unit by ten years to 2027.  

There are two Soviet-supplied VVER units at the Armenian nuclear power plant, which began operation in 1977 and 1980. The two-unit Armenian NPP was commissioned in 1980 but was shut down in March 1989 after the Spitak earthquake in December 1988. In the face of a severe energy crisis, unit 2 was re-commissioned with Russian assistance in November 1995.

The project is divided into two stages, according to Areg Galstyan, an adviser to Armenia’s Minister of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources. During the first stage, work was carried out to survey the main equipment. In total, about 4500 pieces of equipment were examined to determine what needs to be replaced. The investigation looked at the condition of the metal, pumps, and other equipment in the primary circuit. All work was carried out in close cooperation with Russian specialists.

Currently, all efforts are focused on implementation of the second stage, which involves replacing equipment directly related to safety. “It is necessary, in particular, to replace the turbine plant, which will increase the efficiency of the station by increasing the thermal capacity of the unit using the same amount of fuel. This will make it possible to generate more electricity, as well as reduce unit costs. Thus, it will be possible to reduce the load on the station's tariff margins.”  

The closure is timed to coincide with the flood period so that the hydropower facilities can make up any shortfall in power generation. Construction and installation works will be conducted in spring and summer. In summer, one turbine will be replaced followed by the second in 2019. Galstyan said any equipment in the primary circuit which cannot be replaced would be repaired. Most of the pumping equipment, valves, valves, latches, automation, primary converters, so-called sensors, information monitoring systems and reactor protection control systems will be replaced.

Photo: Metsamor nuclear plant