Fuel loading began right on schedule on February 19 at the unit- 2 of Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant II in Russia. Equipped with the VVER-1200 reactor this is another referential unit of under implementation Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh. The first batch of 163 fuel assemblies were loaded successfully and the remaining assemblies to be loaded within next five days.
The initial fuel loading marks the beginning of the reactor start-up. The reactor will then achieve first criticality – the moment when a chain reaction is launched in the reactor for the first time and the core parameters required for the reactor’s further operation are established. The next stages include connection to the grid, power ascension testing and the commencement of commercial operations.
“This operation marks the beginning of the reactor start-up, which means that all operations related to the construction of unit- 2 at the Novovoronezh NPP II have been accomplished. Further operations will prepare the unit for first criticality and electricity production. The unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year,” said Andrei Petrov, Director General of Rosenergoatom, operator of the plant.
The VVER-1200 is the flagship of ROSATOM’s (Russia’s state atomic energy corporation) generation III+ PWR-type reactor and the world’s only generation III+ design in series construction. Unit – 2 at the Novovoronezh NPP II is going to be the third in the series following unit – 1 at the same NPP, launched in 2016, and unit – 1 at the Leningrad NPP II, launched in 2017.
“It is the second reactor of its type on this site and the third in Russia. Several foreign countries have also chosen to use this technology, including Finland, Hungary, Bangladesh and Belarus. Overall, there are 36 units currently being developed by Rosatom in 12 countries,” said Vladimir Povarov, Director Novovoronezh NPP.
Compared with the previous generation of VVER power units, the innovative generation III+ VVER-1200 reactor has a number of safety and economic advantages. Its capacity is increased by 7%, number of staff is reduced by 30-40%, and the reactor’s lifetime is doubled to 60 years with a possibility of extending it to 80 years.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh, which is under construction with the help of Russia will have two units with VVER – 1200 reactors.