Belarus has joined the growing number of countries using nuclear power to produce electricity following grid connection of its first commercial reactor.
The Russian-designed VVER-1200 unit, Ostrovets 1, supplied its first electricity to the Belarusian grid at 12:03pm on 3 November.
“The launch of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is a milestone for both Belarus and Rosatom,” said Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev.
Ostrovets 1 is the first VVER-1200 unit to start up outside of Russia, where four reactors are in operation (Novovoronezh II units 1&2 and Leningrad II units 1&2). The VVER-1200 is the “backbone of the Rosatom export order book consisting of 36 units across 12 markets, including Finland and Hungary,” Rosatom said in a statement.
It added that the safety system of the Ostrovets nuclear plant has been fully endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which concluded that “the plant’s design parameters accounted for site-specific external hazards, such as earthquakes, floods and extreme weather, as well as human-induced events.” It also said “measures have been taken to address challenges related to external events in light of lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident."
Once fully completed, Belarus’ 2.4GW nuclear plant is expected to supply about 18TWh of low-carbon electricity to the national grid every year, avoiding more than 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually by replacing coal-fired generation.
Growing number of countries turn to nuclear power
Currently 32 countries have nuclear power plants in operation, including the UAE, which started up its first reactor earlier in 2020.
The World Nuclear Association said in a statement that over the next few years, Belarus will be joined by Bangladesh and Turkey as new nuclear energy countries. Plans are also well advanced for new nuclear construction in Egypt and Uzbekistan, with "many more countries around the world looking to nuclear energy to meet their sustainable energy needs."
“Evidence is mounting that to keep on a sustainable and low-carbon energy path we need to rapidly accelerate the amount of new nuclear capacity built and connected to the grid globally,” said Sama Bilbao y León, director general of the World Nuclear Association. “The 2.4GW of new nuclear capacity in Belarus will be a vital contribution to achieving this goal.”
Photo: Ostrovets 1 was connected to the Belarus national grid on 3 November (Credit: Rosatom)