On 19 February, physical start up began at unit 2 of Russia’s Novovoronezh-II NPP as fuel loading got underway. General contractor ASE (the engineering division of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) said the start up was “in exact accordance with the schedule”. This came after an operating licence was issued by the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Supervision (Rostechnadzor). All 163 fuel assemblies are planned to be loaded within five days and it is expected to begin commercial operation before the end of the year.
The unit has a VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit with a design net capacity of 1114 MWe, the lead project for the deployment of the AES-2006 design incorporating a Gidropress-designed PWR, an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000. Unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II plant, Russia's first VVER-1200 reactor, was connected to the grid in August 2016.
This is the third Russian power unit to be built based on a VVER-1200 reactor. The others are Novovoronezh-II unit 1 (commissioned in 2016) and Leningrad-II unit 1. The generation 3+ VVER-1200 has a number of advantages over the VVER-1000, ASE said. While the capacity of the reactor plant is increased by 20%, the number of service personnel has been reduced by 30-40%. The design life of the main equipment has been doubled and is 60 years with the possibility of extension for another 20 years.