The loading of fresh nuclear fuel was completed on 27 December at unit 2 of the Belarus nuclear power plant in Ostravets. Sequential loading of 163 fuel assemblies began on 22 December. The fuel was manufactured at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP – part of Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL).
The Belarus 2 reactor will now be brought to the minimum controllable level (up to 1%) of power with appropriate testing. After confirming the reliability and safety of the unit at its design parameters, the power start-up phase will begin, after which the unit will be connected to the Belarus power grid for the first time.
“The most interesting, exciting and crucial period in the construction of a nuclear power unit is its adjustment and commissioning after the end of a huge amount of construction and installation work,” said Alexander Lokshin, First Deputy General Director of Rosatom and President of the Engineering Division (ASE). “At this stage, cubic metres of concrete, tons of metal structures, kilometres of cables and pipelines become a living organism that will function and benefit people for at least 60 years. The physical start can be compared with the formation and beginning of the work of the main organ - the heart of this organism."
The Belarus NPP comprises two Russian supplied VVER-1200 power units. The plant was issued a permit for pilot industrial operation of unit 1 in December 2020 and it was connected to the grid in March 2021 and began commercial operation in June. It was the first VVER-1200 unit to begin operation outside of Russia. Rosatom's international order portfolio currently includes 35 VVER units at various stages of implementation in 12 countries.
Also on 22 December, Belarus Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said in a statement that the possibility of building a second nuclear power plant in Belarus is being considered, the proposal will be presented to the President in 2022.
"The President has instructed construction of a second station in another region of Belarus to be studied. This issue is not easy, it is necessary to conduct a large amount of not only economic calculations, but also scientific research based on a comprehensive development programme." The work is being planned by the National Academy of Sciences with the participation of Russian partners. “We expect to complete it by the autumn of next year and make a proposal to the President,” Golovchenko said.
Photo: Fuel loading was completed at Belarus 2 on 27 December (Photo: Rosatom)