The reference unit of Paks II. has taken another step closer to the commercial operation, the specialists have started to load the fuel, Rosatom announced. A total of 163 nuclear fuel assemblies will be placed in the VVER-1200 Unit 2 of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant II. According to the announcement, the loading of the assemblies started on 19 July 2020. This marked the beginning of the physical start-up of the reactor.
After loading the fuel assemblies, the reactor is charged to the minimum controlled 1% power level, and then increasing this to verify safe operation with a number of additional measurements. After performing the checks, the unit is connected to the grid. During the test operation, the systems of the unit will be tested under operating conditions and, after obtaining the necessary licenses, the commercial operation of Unit 2 of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant II. will start in 2021. The new unit will replace Unit 2 RBMK-1000 of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, which will be disconnected from the grid after 45 years of operation.
With the physical start-up of the unit, the construction phase is completed, and the facility became a functioning nuclear power plant unit. From this moment on, the operator will be responsible for the safe operation of the unit for the coming decades.
The announcement of Rosatom highlights that the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant II. is going to be the NPP reference for the Paks II. Nuclear Power Plant. The first VVER-1200 unit was launched in 2017 and has been in commercial operation since 2018. In addition to Hungary, such units are being built in Finland, Belarus, Turkey, China and Bangladesh. Rosatom has received orders for a total of 36 such units from 12 countries, with each unit at a different stage of implementation.
The innovative 3+ generation VVER-1200 reactor has a number of advantages over its predecessor, the VVER-1000. Its performance is 20% higher, the number of operators is 30 to 40% lower, while its lifetime has doubled to 60 years, which can be extended for another 20 years.