Design work on Russia’s 1200MWe sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor, BN-1200, should be completed before the end of 2016, according to Vyacheslav Pershukov, deputy director general and director for innovations management at Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

Pershukov, who was speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, said that technical solutions for the BN-1200 project are at the stage of economic evaluation, noting that to do a well-justified analysis, it would be necessary to have data on economic characteristics of the smaller BN-800 reactor operation, which is expected to begin operation at unit 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP in the near future. Information will also be needed on MOX-fuel production at MCC and dense nitride fuel production at SCC.

Pershukov said a "decision in principle" had been made on the changes to the core of BN-1200, according to reports in Nuclear.Ru. It will use not only MOX-fuel but nitride fuel, which "improves the reactor characteristics". After completion of the economic evaluation a decision may be taken on the beginning of construction, Pershukov said. "It is technically possible to start operation or finish construction of the BN-1200 in 2025, approximately five years earlier than initially planned," he added.

The BN-1200 should be competitive over its entire lifecycle in terms of electricity cost: "It should be competitive not only with VVER-TOI (Russia’s state-of-the-art VVER reactor design) but with the gas-fired generation." Financing construction of the BN-1200, which should be included in Russia’s power mix by 2030, will be carried using funds from nuclear utility Rosenergoatom’s investment programme, Pershukov said.

Photo: The Beloyarsk site