On November 3, at 12:03 pm, the first Belarus NPP GenIII+ power unit (its General Designer and General Contractor being the ROSATOM’s Engineering Division) equipped with a VVER-1200 reactor was synchronized with the grid for the first time and delivered the first kilowatt-hours of electricity to the unified power grid of the Republic of Belarus.
“The first kilowatt-hours of electric energy delivered by the Belarus NPP to the unified power grid system is a landmark to manifest the beginning of the nuclear age for the Republic of Belarus. This has become possible owing to the long-term and efficient work of a large team of Belarus and Russian specialists. No doubt, there is still a lot of work to be done before the unit is put into commercial operation, however it is already the case to celebrate the success of the Belarus NPP project which is the first Gen III+ nuclear power plant built by using Russian technologies outside of Russia”, Alexey Likhachev, Director General of ROSATOM commented on the significant event.
“The AES-2006 design, which is the basis for constructing the Belarus NPP, is one of the most promising and demanded projects on the international nuclear market. Presently, Finland, Hungary, Turkey, Bangladesh, China and other countries have become the main consumers of Gen III+ NPP power units equipped with Russian-designed VVER-1200 reactors. And this speaks volumes about the reliability and efficiency of the Russian nuclear technologies, ” pointed out Andrey Petrov, Rosenergoatom JSC Director General, ASE EC JSC First Vice-President for Construction.
On August 7, 2020, the first fuel assembly with fresh nuclear fuel was loaded into the Unit 1 reactor core. On October 11, 2020 at the stage of physical start-up, the reactor was brought to the minimum controlled power level (less than 1% of the rated power). On October 23, 2020, SE "Belarusian NPP" and ASE EC JSC (the Engineering Division of ROSATOM) obtained a permission from the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus to carry out the power start-up works, which provide for a gradual power increase of the reactor plant ranging from 1% to 50% of the rated power, to connect the power unit to the unified power grid of the Republic of Belarus and to carry out dynamic tests at the rate of 50% power of the reactor plant. It is planned to complete the works at this stage of the power unit commissioning programme in the early December 2020, which is to be followed by the pilot operation stage.
Putting the Belarus NPP power unit No. 1 into commercial operation is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.
The Belarus NPP Unit 1 has become the first Gen III+ Unit in operation built abroad based on the Russian technologies. Currently, three power Units of the similar type have been successfully operated in Russia, including two units at the Novovoronezh NPP and one unit at the Leningrad NPP. On October 22, the 4th Russian Gen III+ power unit No. 6 of the Leningrad NPP was connected to the grid for the first time.
As compared with the VVER-1000 power units of the previous generation, the innovative Gen III + power unit with the VVER-1200 reactor has a number of advantages that significantly upgrade its safety and cost performance. The project implements a full range of technical solutions to ensure the safe operation of the power unit and prevent the release of radioactive products into the environment. In particular, the power unit is equipped with two protective containments. The inner containment ensures the tightness of the facility where the reactor plant is located. The outer containment is able to withstand natural and man-made impacts, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. The passive safety systems of the power unit are capable to operate even in the event of a complete loss of power supply and can perform all safety functions without the use of active systems and operator's intervention. The passive heat removal system (PHRS) provides the long-term heat removal from the reactor core in the absence of all sources of power supply, if necessary, it is activated without the outside intervention and operates under the impact of the natural factors only. Owing to the accumulator tanks of the first and second stages, in the event of an emergency, when the pressure decreases below a certain level in the primary circuit, the liquid is supplied to the reactor and the core is cooled. Thus, the nuclear reaction is quenched by a large amount of boron-containing water, which absorbs neutrons. According to the design, the lower part of the power unit containment involves a core melt localization device, or a core catcher, designed to localize and cool the melt of the reactor core in the event of a hypothetical accident that can lead to damage of the reactor core. The core catcher allows maintaining the integrity of the containment and preventing the release of radioactive products into the environment even in case of hypothetical severe accidents. Moreover, the capacity of reactor unit has increased by 20%, the number of service staff has been significantly decreased, the design service life of the main equipment has increased twice - from 30 to 60 years with a possibility of prolongation by 20 more years.
Atomenergomash JSC (the Machine-Building Division of ROSATOM) is a complete supplier of the major equipment for the Belarus NPP nuclear island.
The fuel assemblies are manufactured by the TVEL Fuel Company of ROSATOM at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NZHK JSC), the level of enrichment ranges from 1.3 to 4.4%.