Armenia plans to extend the service life of its nuclear power plant in Metsamor after 2026 and has not abandoned plans to build a new plant, according to the government's strategic programme for the development of energy sector until 2040, approved by the Cabinet on 14 January.
The programme identifies the extension of the service life of unit 2 at the Armenian NPP beyond 2026 as one of its main priorities, while the subsequent construction of a new nuclear power plant is another key goal of the government.
“Having a nuclear power plant in the energy system will allow Armenia to diversify its energy resources, avoid increasing the country's dependence on imported natural gas, as well as cut the volume of emissions,” the programme says.
The Armenian NPP currently accounts for 39% of Armenia's total electricity generation.
“The government remains committed to its policy of having a NPP in the country's generating capacity. In this context, it should be noted that the option of maximally extending the operating life of the nuclear power plant is a guarantee of the development of the system at the lowest cost,” the document says.
It notes that the current investment programme, designed to extend the design life of unit 2 will be completed by 2023. By that time a total of $330 million will have been invested, and the service life of the facility will be extended until 2026. The programme says also that, if the safe operation of unit 2 after 2026 is confirmed by relevant studies, the government will operate the facility at least until 2036, which is expected to require additional investments of $150 million.
The government is also considering the option of building a replacement nuclear unit at the existing site after the end of its operating life, which will enable Armenia not to increase its dependence on imported natural gas.
The Armenian NPP, with two Soviet-supplied VVER-440-V230 units was built in the 1970s but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988. However, unit 2 was recommissioned with Russian help in 1995 in face of severe energy shortages. In March 2014, the Armenian government decided to extend the plant’s service life up to 2026. The work, now underway, was supported by a Russian loan and grant.