6 January 2022


Closure of Kursk‑1 in Russia

The Kursk-1 reactor was closed on 19 December 2021, to the day 45 years after its first grid connection on 19 December 1976, plant operator Joint Stock Company Concern Rosenergoatom announced. The Chernobyl type, RBMK-925MW reactor was originally scheduled for permanent closure in late 2023 when construction of the new Kursk-II unit 1 was planned to be completed. The Kursk-II project consists of two VVER1200 MW which are the TOI or VVER-V-510 design, construction of which began 29 April 2018 and 15 April 2019 respectively. The RBMK Kursk-2 reactor is due to close upon startup of the second VVER-1200 Kursk-II unit 2, while the remaining RBMK’s, Kursk-3 and -4, are due for permanent closure no later than 2031.

Kursk-1 under construction in the early 1970s - Photo: Rosatom

Located 40 km from the city of Kursk in western Russia, Kursk-1 was had a modest average load factor of 63.8 percent over its lifetime. As WNISR 2021 reported, RBMKs were designed for an operational lifetime of 30 years, but had been granted 15-year lifetime extensions. There were plans to extend the operating life in some cases to 60 years, while the VVER-1000s are expected to work for up to 50 years. Consequently, the closure of Kursk-1 earlier than planned, with Leningrad-1 and -2 (in September 2018 and November 2020 respectively) is potentially a significant event, as, after 45 years of operation, it would indicate that 60-year operational lifetime is beyond the RMBK potential.

The closure of Kursk-1 brings to 37 the number of reactors operating in Russia, eight of which are RBMK design.