Slovak energy company Slovenské Elektrárne (SE) has loaded the first fuel cartridge into the VVER-440 reactor at unit 3 of the Mochovce NPP. After undergoing the necessary the tests, the unit is expected to achieve 100% power by the end of 2022. Branislav Strýcek, SE Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO told a press conference that over the next approximately four months, the plant will gradually complete the phases of physical start-up, energy start-up and the final 144-hour run of the 471MWe unit at full power.
"Today we are starting to write a new chapter in the energy sector of Slovakia and Europe,” he said. “It is the culmination of a long-term project, which is one of the largest and most demanding in terms of finance and infrastructure in Europe. After starting up at full capacity, Mochovce 3 will cover 13% of electricity consumption in Slovakia. As a result, our country will become self-sufficient. At the same time, we will have one of the cleanest energy mixes in Europe.” The service life of the new unit is at least 60 years.
The fuel loading will take 108 hours, followed by the assembly of the reactor, pre-critical tests, achieving criticality and physical start-up tests – all of which is expected to take six weeks – after which power start-up will begin. The power level will be gradually increased to 5%, 20%, 35%, 55%, 75%, 90% and finally 100%. The introduction of the first fuel into the reactor was preceded by the official signing of the second-stage decision on putting the equipment into operation by the President of the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ÚJD), Marta Žiaková. ÚJD issued the final authorisation for commissioning Mochovce 3 in August.
SE has two shareholders. The majority shareholder is Slovak Power Holding BV (SPH), owning just over 66% of the share capital. EP Slovakia BV (a subsidiary of the EPH Group) owns 50% of the share capital in SPH, and the remaining 50% belongs to Enel Produzione SpA (a subsidiary of Italy’s Enel Group). The Slovak Republic, represented by the Ministry of Economy is a minority shareholder of SE with almost 34% of the share capital.
Construction of the first two 471 MWe VVER units at the four-unit Mochovce plant began in 1982. Construction of units 3&4, which started in 1986, was frozen in 1992. Units 1&2 began operation in 1998 and 1999 and work to complete units 3&4 resumed in 2009.
The final design includes many upgrades to safety and security, introduced in the wake of the Fukushima accident.
Image: Fuel loading begins at unit 3 of the Mochovce NPP (courtesy of Slovenské Elektrárne)