The first of 163 nuclear fuel assemblies has been loaded into the VVER-1200 reactor of power unit 2 of Leningrad NPP-2. Fuel loading marks the beginning of the physical start-up of an NPP.
The plant is operated by Rosatom’s Electric Power Division Rosenergoatom. Rosenergoatom‘s Director General Andrei Petrov said: “Beginning physical start-up procedures means that all the works associated with building the unit are complete. Today this important equipment of the unit receives the status of a ‘nuclear energy installation’, and nuclear specialists take on the responsibility for its safe operations for many years ahead.”
After fuel is loaded, the reactor will be brought to minimum controllable power level (up to 1%), to ensure safety of all relevant processes. The physical launch will be followed by the power start-up, trial operation, and integrated testing. The power unit is scheduled to be commissioned in 2021. It will replace the RBMK-1000 reactor-equipped power unit 2 of Leningrad NPP-1, which will be shut down at the end of this year after 45 years of service. The VVER-1200 is the flagship of ROSATOM’s Generation III+ PWR-type reactor and the world’s only Generation III+ design in serial construction. Unit No. 2 at the Leningrad-2 NPP is going to be the fourth in the series following units No. 1 and 2 at the Novovoronezh-2 NPP, launched in 2016 and 2019 respectively, and unit No. 1 at the Leningrad-2 NPP, launched in 2017.
The innovative Generation III+ power unit, equipped with the VVER-1200 reactor, has a number of advantages when compared to the previous generation (VVER-1000): it is 20% more powerful; the amount of personnel operating the reactor has decreased by 30-40%; and the lifetime of the reactor has doubled to 60 years, with the possibility of lasting an additional 20 years.
The following countries, among others, have chosen to adopt this technology: Finland, Hungary, China, Bangladesh, Belarus, Turkey. Rosatom’s international order book currently comprises of 36 power unit projects at various stages of implementation in 12 countries.