Russia’s Rostov 4 achieved criticality on 6 December. The 1011MWe reactor designed by Gidropress and built by Atomstroyexport, both subsidiaries of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, will be the last in Russia's series build of VVER-1000 units, which comprise 13 of Russia's 23 operating power reactors. When Rostov 4 reaches full power and commercial operation in 2018, nuclear will provide 54% of power in southern Russia, Rosatom said.
Rostov 4 will also bring RUB1.7bn ($28.7m) in property tax in its first year of operation and eventually will provide about RUB1bn a year in taxes. Rostov NPP is "the basis of energy security for southern Russia", Rosatom said.
Rostov 4 is the third reactor to start at the site in the past seven years. Rostov 2 started in 2010 and unit 3 in 2015. Valery Limarenko, head of the Engineering Division of Rosatom and president of ASE Group said Rostov NPP is a showcase for Russia’s advanced technologies for project management, for implementing digital solutions and gaining invaluable experience that is then transferred to other facilities. Rostov was also the winner of the corporate competition in the field of safety culture for 2017. Rosatom’s expert council noted 62 strengths and significant achievements relating to improvements in safety culture at the plant. Rostov NPP previously won the competition in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014.
The startup of Rostov 4 will be followed shortly by the operation of unit 1 at the Leningrad-II NPP. Russian regulator Rostechnadzor issued operating licences for both Rostov 4 and Leningrad II-1 on 5 December. The licences mean the units have completed the construction, installation, equipment and systems commissioning and testing stages, nuclear utility Rosenergoatom said. Rostechnadzor also completed its checks in preparation for the physical launch of the two plants.
The loading the 163 TVS fuel assemblies, produced by fuel manufacturer TVEL (part of Rosatom) into the core of LNPP-II-1 began on 8 December and should be completed by the end of the month. The process was witnessed by Rosenergoatom General Director Andrey Petrov, TITAN-2 JSC General Director Grigoriy Naginskiy and LNPP Director Vladimir Pereguda.
Petrov said: "Within 30 days, the reactor facility will be ready to reach the minimum controlled power level. We will conduct all the necessary experiments and launch operations at the reactor facility in accordance with the phased programme. The next step is the power start-up, which will begin next year."
The commissioning of Leningrad II-1 will mean that Russia has two VVER-1200 units in operation, following the startup of Novovoronezh II-1 in 2016, and the start of commercial operation in February.
Leningrad II will eventually replace the four RBMK units currently operating at the original Leningrad NPP. Formal commissioning of Leningrad II-1 is scheduled for 2018. “For the first time in the recent history of Russia we are starting up two nuclear power units within one week: at Leningrad and Rostov, said Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev. “It is worth noting that we are doing this on schedule and within budget.”
Photo: Fuel loading at Leningrad II-1 (Credit: Rosatom)