27 Feb 2023 09:12

Belarus planning to put 2nd power unit of BelNPP into operation in 2nd half of 2023, it's 98% ready - Energy Ministry

MINSK. Feb 27 (Interfax) - The second power unit of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP) will be put into operation in the second half of 2023, Belarusian Energy Minister Viktor Karankevich said on Thursday.

"The second BelNPP power unit is 98% ready. [...] The second power unit will be put into commercial operation in the second half of 2023," the press service for the Energy Ministry quoted him as saying.

According to the minister, preparations for launching the chain reaction and bringing the reactor to the lowest controlled level, 1% of capacity, are currently underway. Following it, a range of studies will be conducted to confirm the reliability of the nuclear physics monitoring system and nuclear safety of the reactor.

"Successful completion of these tasks will enable moving on to the next stage, the power start-up of the unit involving its linking to the energy system and generating its first kilowatt-hours of electricity. The next stage is test operation [prior to commercial operation," Karankevich said.

Simultaneously, the Energy Ministry is preparing the second round of scheduled preventive maintenance of the first power unit in the fourth quarter of 2023. As part of repairs, "the next reload of nuclear fuel will also be performed, it has already been shipped by the general contractor to the BelNPP site and passed an entry check," he said.

A total of 163 fuel assemblies containing fresh nuclear fuel are located in the active zone of the reactor in the power unit. About 25% of them need to be replaced every year.

Extended monitoring of technological systems and metal monitoring of reactor and turbine compartment equipment will also be performed as part of maintenance.

Belarus is completing the construction of the NPP near the town of Ostrovets in the Grodno region with Russian VVER-1200 reactors. It will consist of two power units with a capacity of 1.2 GW each. JSC ASE, Rosatom's engineering division, is the general contractor for the construction of the NPP. A Russian government loan of $10 billion was attracted in order to finance the construction of the NPP.

The second unit reactor's physical startup phase began in December 2021. It had been due to go into service by the end of 2022. According to the Energy Ministry's estimates, the unit is 98% ready.

The first power unit was commissioned on June 10, 2021. It had been under scheduled maintenance from April 25 to November 9, 2022.

On February 16, Russian Ambassador in Minsk Boris Gryzlov said that the second power unit of BelNPP would be connected to the power grid in late March, and it is expected to reach its full industrial capacity in late August.