Unit 1 of the Leningrad Phase II nuclear power plant in northwest Russia has today entered "experimental industrial operation", the final stage of its commissioning. The VVER 1200 reactor is scheduled to enter commercial operation before the end of this year.
Workers started to gradually raise the power output of the reactor after a permit for the beginning of the stage was issued by the Russian regulator Rostechnadzor, Rosenergoatom - the nuclear power plant operating subsidiary of Rosatom - announced. A series of tests will be carried out with the reactor at 40%, 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% of capacity.
Vladimir Pereguda, director of Leningrad NPP, said: "We reached the final stage of commissioning the power unit. Experimental and industrial operation is a rather lengthy and extremely responsible stage. It can be said that this is the last step before the beginning of the new life of the unit." He added, "Carrying out the checks and tests provided by the programme, we will finally confirm the correspondence of the actual parameters and performance characteristics of the systems and equipment to the design values, make sure of their reliable and safe operation. Only after this, the new, super-powerful Leningrad power unit will be put into commercial operation. We are planning that this will happen before the end of this year."
Alexander Belyaev, chief engineer of Leningrad NPP II, said: "The criterion for the success of the phase will be the final 15-day delivery tests (complex testing) of the power unit with the reactor facilities at 100% of capacity. They must confirm that the equipment and technological systems of the power unit are working in full accordance with the project."
The existing Leningrad plant site has four operating RBMK-1000 units, while Leningrad-II will have four VVER-1200 units. Leningrad II-1 is the second VVER-1200 reactor, following the launch in 2016 of Novovoronezh 6. Start-up operations of the new Leningrad unit began on 8 December last year, when the first fuel assemblies were loaded into the reactor core. The reactor was brought to the minimum controllable power level on 6 February and connected to the grid on 9 March.