27 October 2020


Nuclear Reactor Startup in Russia

Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant - Photo Rosatom

WNISR, 27 October 2020

Grid connection of Leningrad-2 unit 2 took place on 23 October 2020. This is the third reactor startup in the world this year following grid connections in China and the United Arab Emirates in August 2020, while four units were closed so far (two each in France and in the U.S.).

The reactor, also known as Leningrad-6, is located at Sosnovy Bor in Western Russia and follows grid connection of Leningrad-2 unit 1 on 7 March 2018. Builder-operator Rosatom plans to complete construction and operate four VVER-1200 at the site while replacing over time the four RBMK-1000 reactors at the same location Leningrad-1 unit 1 was closed for decommissioning on 21 December 2019, following the commissioning of Leningrad-2 unit 1.

Construction started at Leningrad 2-2 in April 2010, with the reactor now expected to begin commercial operation at the beginning of 2021. It took ten years from construction start to commercial operation, even longer than the construction time of the first unit. In June 2020, Rosatom announced that preparation work would begin for the construction of four new reactors, Units 3 and 4 at Leningrad 2, as well as two reactors at Smolensk.

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.

The first independent assessment of the VVER design, specifically the Ostrovets VVER-1200s under construction in Belarus, was completed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in June 2018. ENSREG concluded that there were significant issues related to the design and safety systems. The assessment of ENSREG contrasts with Rosatom claims that, "They are absolutely safe in operation and fully meet the IAEA’s post-Fukushima requirements.”