Novovoronezh-6, First Russian Generation III Reactor Connected to the Grid
Paris, 7 August 2016
Russian nuclear builder-operator Rosatom announced the grid connection of what it declares to be the first operating Generation III+ reactor in the world (see What is a Generation III+?). The VVER-1200 Novovoronezh-6 generated its first electricity on 5 August 2016, with a delay of four years. Construction started on 24 June 2008 and commercial operation was planned for the end of 2012. Nothing is known about the cost implications of the delays. Rosatom claims in a press release: “They are absolutely safe in operation and fully meet the IAEA’s post-Fukushima requirements. Their feature is a large number of passive safety systems, which are able to function even in case of the plant blackout and without operator’s intervention. So Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP uses passive heat removal system from the reactor, hydrogen recombiners and core catcher, which are unique and have no similarities worldwide.” Rosatom has offered the VVER-1200 Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) design, also called AES-2006, with a capacity of 1200 MW in various countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, Finland and Vietnam. Two units are under construction in Belarus. However, the design has not been licensed in any western country and no thorough independent assessment has been carried out. The significant 4-year delay of the commissioning of the Novovoronezh-6 reactor must be put into perspective. Other Generation III+ reactors under construction encounter even more serious delays. The Franco-German European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) at Olkiluoto in Finland is now nine years behind schedule, the Flamanville EPR is at least six years late and the two EPRs in Taishan, China, have been due for more than two years (see Nuclear Reactors in the World “Under Construction").