Unit 4 of Russia’s Rostov nuclear plant, a 1011MW VVER-1000/320 unit, was formally launched on 1 February by President Vladimir Putin during a video conference. Earlier, on the same day, the turbine was synchronised with the grid, and power production began. Construction of Rostov 4, started in June 2010. First criticality and minimum controlled power were achieved in December 2017.

Alexey Likhachev, director general of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, noted that a number of records had been set during construction of the plant. He said the main circulation pipeline was welded for 96 days compared with a Soviet record of 150 days. The time from first concrete to the connection to the network was more than halved. “But most importantly, we have learned during the ten years of Rosatom's existence to build precisely on time and at a fixed price."

Andrei Petrov, General Director of nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, said: "With the commissioning of unit 4, Rostov NPP will become the largest energy facility in the south of the country. More than 50% of the electricity generated in the Rostov region will be nuclear.” He noted that startup operations were also underway at Leningrad II-1, with formal operation expected in early spring.

The president of the general contractor ASE Group, Valery Limarenko, said the launch of unit 4 ended the era of serial power units with VVER-1000/V-320 reactors. “Rostov NPP is a vivid example of continuity of our traditions, continuity of development of our technologies. It was here, on the site of the Rostov NPP, in the early 2000s, the revival of the nuclear industry of Russia began. "

A Rosenergoatom statement noted that Rostov is the first nuclear plant in post-Soviet Russia, which has launched three units within seven years – unit 2 in 2010, unit 3 in 2015 and unit 4 in 2017.  It was also the first to see a revival of streamlined building, ensuring the most efficient use of material and financial resources, as well as compliance with the guidelines for construction. With the commercial operation of Rostov 4, the station will generate some 54% of the electricity for Russia’s southern region.
A high-voltage transmission line from Rostov NPP to Crimea will begin operating on 16 March, the press service of the Krasnodar region administration through which the power line passes, said. It noted that "the progress of construction was assessed as satisfactory" despite some unsolved issues on the status of two plots of land, which should be resolved “in the near future”. The line is expected to increase the reliability of electricity supply in the region.

Some 70-80% of Crimea's electricity comes from the mainland (from Zaporozhye TPP, Zaporozhye NPP in the Mykolayiv region), supplied by four high-voltage lines. In 2015, extremists blew up three power lines in the Kherson region leading to the Crimea, and then prevented repair work, causing severe power shortages. In December 2015, an energy bridge was laid from the mainland of Russia to the Crimea, which provides 85% of the Crimea's electricity needs.

Photo: President of Russia Vladimir Putin authorising the startup of Rostov 4 design power (Photo: Rosenergoatom)