16 April 2019

First Reactor Construction Start in the World in 2019, in Russia

WNISR, Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The first construction start in 2019 of a new nuclear reactor worldwide took place in Russia. There are now 50 units under construction in the world including six in Russia.

The official construction start with the pouring of basemat concrete at the Kursk-II unit 2 reactor was begun 15 April 2019, according to the plant owner Joint Stock Company Concern Rosenergoatom. The 1255 MW VVER pressurized water reactor, located 40 km from the city of Kursk in western Russia, is the second of the VVER V-510 design to be built at the site, with construction start of unit 1 at Kursk in April 2018. They are based on the AES-2006/V-392M design.

Completion of Kursk-II units 1&2 is planned for late 2023 and 2024 respectively, at which time the operating Kursk-I units 1&2, which are of the Chernobyl-type RBMK design, will be shut down. The five-year projected timeframe for construction looks ambitious, with eight years between construction start and operation for the first Generation-III reactor Novovoronezh-6.

Rosatom promotes the Generation-III reactor as including the most advanced passive safety features. Commenting on the start of Kursk-II-1 construction the Director of the Kursk plant stated “Russia’s first VVER-TOI-based power unit proves that the national nuclear power industry is always at the cutting edge of science and engineering. The new generation VVER-TOI units are state-of-the-art facilities made to the best of Russia’s nuclear engineering knowledge.”

It should be noted however that the design of the reactors was begun in 2009 and completed in 2012, with questions over the adaptation of post Fukushima lessons into the design of the reactor that was largely completed before the March 2011 disaster began. The design has not been licensed in any western country and no thorough independent assessment has been carried out.