On the 6th of December 2017, at 19:53, the operating personnel of Rostov NPP (Volgodonsk, a branch of Rosenergoatom which is part of ROSATOM’s Power Division, the largest of all divisions) successfully loaded first fuel assemblies into the reactor of Unit 4.
The first criticality program marks the beginning of the large phase to prepare Unit 4 of Rostov NPP with a VVER-1000 reactor for the first power and start of producing electricity. During this program, the core characteristics necessary for the reactor operation are determined. The program is to last for 25 days and ends with bringing the reactor to the minimum controlled power (MCP). A total of 163 fuel assemblies will be loaded into the reactor.
The decision that Rostov-4 was ready for the first criticality program was made following the results of the target inspection conducted by Rostechnadzor which had checked on availability of process systems and equipment of the facility, power unit personnel, operating documentation for this operation.
The start-up operations were witnessed by Governor of Rostov Region Vasily Golubev, Head of Power Division of ROSATOM and General Director of Rosenergoatom Andrey Petrov, Head of Engineering Division of ROSATOM and President of Group of Companies ASE (Architect General and General Construction Contractor for Rostov NPP units) Valery Limarenko.
Andrey Petrov said the experience in construction of nuclear facilities implemented at the southmost of Russian plants is truly unique. “It is unprecedented that Rostov NPP is the only plant in Russia which started three units on one site over 7 years (Unit 2 in 2010, Unit 3 in 2015 and now Unit 4) and the first plant in the recent history which recovered the so-called ‘straight-line construction’ which ensures both maximum effective use of material and monetary resources and observance of scheduled dates of construction. I note that the result which we can and must be proud of is the merit of the single team. We are fulfilling the main task of starting up power unit set up for us by the country and sector’s leadership,” he said.
In turn, Valery Limarenko noted that the timely approach to the first criticality program at Unit 4 was the witness of the fact that the Engineering Division consistently fulfils its obligations in starting up new capacities. “For us, the Rostov site is, to say, a showcase; we test our cutting-edge project management technologies here, implement digital solutions while gaining invaluable experience which then duplicated at other our facilities. This produces positive effect on due dates and quality of construction. I would like to thank all employees participating in this project!” he said.
Noting that Unit 4 is the last power unit under construction at Rostov NPP, it in fact closes the legendary series of power units with VVER-1000 reactors. The main feature of these reactors where cutting-edge approaches to safety have been implemented based on the defense-in-depth principle is highest reliability.
After the first criticality at Unit 4, the conclusive phase of start-up operations will start – the first power and start of releasing electricity to consumers.
Water-water power reactors (VVER) pertain to the most widely spread pressurized water reactors. At the present time, 34 VVER-1000 units are operated in the world (including 9 in Russia) which have operated for about 725 reactor-years in total and produced 5.5 trillion kWh of electricity over this period of time. Latest developments of reactors based on VVER-1000s with enhanced safety features have been laid as the basis of the innovative design VVER-1200 of Generation III+ which is used at Units 1 and 2 of Novovoronezh Phase II and Units 1 and 2 of Leningrad Phase II in Russia. It is worth noting that shortly the first criticality program is expected to begin at Unit 1 of Leningrad Phase II.
Rostov NPP is a branch of JSC Rosenergoatom Concern (part of Power Division, the largest unit of ROSATOM). The plant is situated on the shore of Tsimlyanskoe Water Reservoir 13.5 km from the city of Volgodonsk. The plat operates VVER-1000 reactors with installed capacity of 1000 MW.
Today, Rostov NPP is the largest enterprise of the power sector in Rostov Region and South of the country. The start-up of Unit 4 will allow for sustainable power supply to the entire southern region of Russia. With that, Rostov Region will be one of top ten Russian regions leading in the generation volume. Now the plant provides for 46% electricity in the region. Electricity from the plant’s power units goes to Volgograd Region, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories and the city of Volgodonsk being the basis of energy security of the entire power system in the South of the country. The commissioning of new Unit 4 will bring the share of the plant in electricity production to about 54% that is over half of the generation.
Operating Unit 4 can bring about RUB 1 billion a year of additional taxes in the budgets of all levels, and in the first year after the commissioning in commercial operation the additional payments will be about RUB 1.7 billion only owing to the property tax.