Russia has connected its first Generation 3+ VVER-1200 nuclear power unit to the grid on 5 August. Unit 1 at the Novovoronezh Phase II NPP (also known as Novovoronezh 6) is a VVER 1200/392M pressurised water reactor (PWR) unit with a design net capacity of 1,114MWe. It is the first of two units at Novovoronezh II – the lead project for the deployment of the AES-2006 design incorporating a Gidropress-designed PWR, an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000. Construction of Novovoronezh II units 1 and 2 (or Novovoronezh 6 and 7) began in June 2008 and July 2009. The original Novovoronezh site nearby already hosts three operating reactors and two that are being decommissioned.

Grid connection of Novovoronezh 6 followed "turbine start from rest" and its trial operation in idle mode, according to state nuclear corporation Rosatom. The unit's operators completed "a large set of checks and tests at different power build up stages, as well as inspection of various equipment", Rosatom noted. "These measures were necessary to confirm the reliability and safety of the power unit in its further operation," it said.

Andrey Petrov, general director of nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, said the work had been carried out "reliably and safely", with operating personnel "clearly understanding" the processes involved. Valery Limarenko, president of general contractor Nizhny Novgorod Engineering Company (NIAEP), said the launch of Novovoronezh 6 "opens up new opportunities for building up our presence in the global market".

Recently consolidated NIAEP-JSC ASE comprises more than 20 entities, with the major players being Atomstroyexport, which specialises in the construction of overseas NPPs; NIAEP, which builds units in Russia; and general design company Moscow Atomenergoproekt. It also includes engineering company Spetzenergomontazh and Nikimt-Atomstroy, which designs and builds used nuclear fuel facilities. ASE Group consolidates the engineering know-how of   Rosatom through the ongoing merger of NIAEP, ASE and Atomenergoproekt.

Launch of the unit will increase the total capacity of the Novovoronezh plant 1.5 times, Rosatom said, adding that, after commissioning, additional estate tax revenues are expected to equal RUB2bn ($3m) in the first year. The new Novovoronezh units will have a passive heat removal system that, in the event of loss of on-site power supply, will provide long-term heat removal from the reactor core to the atmosphere using natural circulation.